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Archive for the ‘Owen, John’ Category

Source: John Owen, The Glory Of Christ ‘The Way And Means Of The Recovery Of Spiritual Decays, And Of Obtaining Fresh Springs Of Grace’

There is no visible difference, as to light, between the light of the morning and the light of the evening; yea, this latter sometimes, from gleams of the setting sun, seems to be more glorious than the other. But herein they differ: the first goes on gradually to more light, until it comes to perfection; the other gradually gives place to darkness, until it comes to be midnight. … And, by the way, this comparing of the path of the just to the morning light reminds me of what I have seen more than once. That light has sometimes cheerfully appeared to the world, when, after a little season, by reason of clouds, tempests, and storms, it has given place again to darkness, like that of the night; but it has not so been lost and buried like the evening light. After a while it has recovered itself unto a greater luster than before, manifesting that it increased in itself while it was eclipsed as to us.

(Isa. 44:3,4): "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: and they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the watercourses." … And here is, a supposition of what we are in ourselves, both before and after our conversion to God,—namely, as thirsty, dry, and barren ground. We have nothing in ourselves, no radical moisture to make us flourishing and fruitful. And as it is before, so it is after conversion: "We are not sufficient of ourselves; our sufficiency is of God" (II Cor. 3:5). Being left to ourselves, we should utterly wither and perish. But this is the glory of covenant promises, that, as to the communication of the grace of conversion and sanctification to the elect, they are absolutely free and unconditional. … But the promises which respect the growth, degrees, and measures of this grace in believers are not so. There are many duties required of us that these promises may be accomplished towards us and in us; yea, watchful diligence in universal gospel obedience is expected from us to this end. (See II Pet. 1:4-10.) This is the ordinary method of the communication of all supplies of grace to make us spiritually flourish and be fruitful, namely, that we be found in the diligent exercise of what we have received. God sometimes deals otherwise, in a way of sovereignty, and surprises men with healing grace in the midst of their decays and backslidings (as Isa. 57 :17,18). So has many a poor soul been delivered from going down into the pit. The Good Shepherd will go out of His way to save a wandering sheep; but this is the ordinary method.

And there is no grace or mercy that more affects the hearts of believers, that gives them a greater transport of joy and thankfulness, than this of deliverance from backslidings. It is a bringing of the soul out of prison, which enlarges it unto praise (Ps. 142:7).

The work of recovering backsliders or believers from under their spiritual decays is an act of sovereign grace, wrought in us by virtue of divine promises. Out of this eater comes meat. Because believers are liable to such declensions, backslidings, and decays, God has provided and given to us great and precious promises of a recovery, if we duly apply ourselves to the means of it.

That I might show how great a thing it is to have our spiritual decays made up, our backslidings healed, and to attain the vigorous actings of grace and spiritual life, with a flourishing profession and fruitful obedience …

First, all our supplies of grace are from Jesus Christ.

Second, the only way of receiving supplies of spiritual strength and grace from Jesus Christ, on our part, is by faith.

Third, this faith respects the person of Christ, His grace, His whole mediation, with all the effects of it, and His glory in them all. This is that which has been so much insisted on in the foregoing discourses that it ought not to be again insisted upon. This, therefore, is the issue of the whole: a steady view of the glory of Christ, in His person, grace, and office, through faith—or a constant, lively exercise of faith on Him, according as He is revealed to us in the Scripture—is the only effectual way to obtain a revival from under our spiritual decays, and such supplies of grace as shall make us flourishing and fruitful even in old age. He that thus lives by faith in Him shall, by his spiritual thriving and growth, "show that the Lord is upright, that he is our rock, and that there is no unrighteousness in him."

The only inquiry remaining is how a constant view of the glory of Christ will produce this blessed effect in us; and it will do so several ways.

a) It will be effected by that transforming power and efficacy with which this exercise of faith is always accompanied. This is that which changes us every day more and more into the likeness of Christ, as has been at large before declared. Herein all revivals and all flourishings are contained. To have a good measure of conformity to Christ is all whereof in this life, we are capable; the perfection of it is eternal blessedness. According as are our attainments therein, so is the thriving and flourishing of the life of grace in us; which is that which is aimed at. Other ways and means, it may be, have failed us; let us put this to the trial. Let us live in the constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, and virtue will proceed from Him to repair all our decays, to renew a right spirit within us, and to cause us to abound in all duties of obedience. This way of producing these effects flesh and blood will not reveal—it looks like washing in Jordan to cure a leprosy; but the life of faith is a mystery known only to them in whom it is.

b) It will fix the soul to that object which is suited to give it delight, complacency, and satisfaction. This in perfection is blessedness, for it is caused by the eternal vision of the glory of God in Christ; and the nearer approaches we make to this state, the better, the more spiritual, the more heavenly, is the state of our souls. And this is to be obtained only by a constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, as has been declared. And it is several ways effectual to the end now proposed. For,

1. Most of our spiritual decays and barrenness arise from an inordinate admission of other things into our minds. These weaken grace in all its operations. But when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and His glory, when the soul cleaves to Him with intense affections, they will cast out, or not give admittance to, those causes of spiritual weakness and indisposition. (See Col. 3:1—5; Eph. 5:8).

2. Where we are engaged in this duty, it will stir up every grace to its due exercise. This is that wherein the spiritual revival inquired after consists. This is all we desire, all we long for, this will make us fat and flourishing—that every grace of the Spirit have its due exercise in us. (See Rom. 5:3—5; II Pet. 1:5—8.) Whereas, therefore, Christ Himself is the first proper, adequate object of all grace, and all its exercise (for it first respects Him, and then other things for Him), when the mind is fixed on Him and His glory, every grace will be in a readiness for its due exercise. And without this we shall never attain it by any resolutions or endeavors of our own, let us make the trial when we please.

3. This will assuredly put us to a vigilant watch and constant conflict against all the deceitful workings of sin, all entrances of temptation, all surprisals into foolish frames by vain imaginations, which are the causes of our decays. Our recovery or revival will not be effected, or a fresh spring of grace be obtained, in a careless, slothful course of profession. Constant watching, fighting, contending against sin, with out utmost endeavor for an absolute conquest over it, are required. And nothing will so much excite and encourage our souls in this as a constant view of Christ and His glory; everything in Him has a constraining power hereunto, as is known to all who have any acquaintance with these things.

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Beautiful In Their Season

The ways of God are, we know, all perfect. He is our rock; and his work is perfect: nothing can be added to them, nor taken from them; yea, they are all comely and beautiful in their season. There is not any thing comes out from him, but it is from wonderful counsel; and all his ways will at length be found to praise him.

As in the case of Job, God takes a man whom he hath blessed with choice of blessings, in the midst of a course of obedience and close walking with himself, when he expected to die in his nest, and to see good all his days;—ruins him in a moment ; blasts his name, that he who was esteemed a choice saint, shall not be able to deliver himself from the common esteem of a hypocrite ; slays his children ; takes away his rest, health, and every thing that is desirable to him. This amazes the soul ; it knows not what God is doing, nor why he pleads with it in so much bitterness. A man that either is, or may fall into such a condition, will find that he will never be able to walk with God in it, without humbling himself to the law of his providence.

 

Source: John Owen from a sermon entitled Of Walking Humbly With God, volume 9 of Works, page 113

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What do men look for in a sanctuary? Freedom from danger, deliverance out of trouble, and a supply of all their wants. All these are proposed in this self-humiliation of Jesus Christ, if we could by faith make him our sanctuary, — if we could by faith, as we ought, go unto him for relief. If we go unto any one for relief, we question but two things, — his will and his power. If he be willing and if he be able, you have no ground to question but you shall have relief. I know how it is with us all. We have all wants, we have all temptations, we have all fears, we have all inward conflicts and perplexities, more or less; and we all secretly groan to be delivered from all these things. Groaning is the best of our spiritual life, — to live in continual groaning. Oh, that we may do so every morning and every evening! that there may be nothing but God and Christ in our souls, all clear and serene, and all our minds spiritual and heavenly! Where shall we betake ourselves, then, for relief in all cases?

Source: John Owen from a sermon entitled The Humiliation and Condescension of Christ, preached on November 9, 1681

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It may be you have prayed, and cried, and resolved, and vowed, but all without success, as you suppose; sin has broken through all: however, if you give not over, you shall prevail at last; you know not at what time God will come in with his grace, and Christ will manifest his love unto you as unto the poor woman [Matt. 15:22-28], after many a rebuke. It may be, after all, he will do it this day; and if not, he may do it another: do not despond. Take that word of Christ himself for your encouragement, Prov. 8:34, “Blessed is the man that hears me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” If you hear him, and wait, though you have not yet admission, but are kept at the gates and posts of the doors, yet in the issue you shall be blessed.

Source: John Owen, The Glory of Christ

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In our best duties we have defilement, Isa. 64:6. Self, unbelief, form, drop themselves into all that we do. We may be ashamed of our choicest performances. God hath promised that the saints’ good works shall follow them. Truly, were they to be measured by the rule as they come from us, and weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it might be well for us that they might be buried for ever. But the Lord Christ first, as our high priest, bears the iniquity, the guilt, and provocation, which in severe justice doth attend them, Exod. 28:38; and not only so, but he washes away all their filth and defilements.

source: John Owen, Of Communion with God

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The day before his death, Owen wrote to a friend…

I am going to Him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me with an everlasting love—which is the whole ground of my consolation … Live, and pray, and hope, and wait patiently, and do not despond; the promise stands invincible, that He will never leave us, nor forsake us.

328 years ago on August 24, 1683 John Owen met his Savior face to Face.

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Christ sometimes, by some strong impulse of actual grace, recovers the soul from the very borders of sin… To show his saints what they are, their own weakness and infirmity, he sometimes suffers them to go to the very edge and brow of the hill and then causes them to hear a word behind them saying, ”This is the right way, walk in it,”—and that with power and efficacy, and so recovers them to himself.

Source: John Owen – from Of Communion With God, volume 2 of Works, page 143-144

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God in our conversion, by the exceeding greatness of his power, as he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, actually worketh faith and repentance to us, gives them unto us, bestows them on us; so that they are mere effects of his grace in us. And his working in us infallibly produceth the effect intended, because it is actual faith that he works, and not only a power to believe.

Source: John Owen, The Nature, Causes, and Means of Regeneration.

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A law proposed unto us is not to be compared, for efficacy, to a law inbred in us.

Adam had a law of sin proposed to him in his temptation; but because he had no law of sin inbred and working in him, he might have withstood it. … The law of God was at first inbred and natural unto man; it was concreated with his faculties, and was their rectitude, both in being and operation, in reference to his end of living unto God and glorifying of him. Hence it had a special power in the whole soul to enable it unto all obedience, yea, and to make all obedience easy and pleasant. Such is the power of an inbred law. …

Afterward God renews this law and writes it in tables of stone. But what is the efficacy of this law? Will it now, as it is external and proposed unto men, enable them to perform the things that it exacts and requires? Not at all.

God knew it would not, unless it were turned to an internal law again; that is, until, of a moral outward rule, it be turned into an inward real principle. Wherefore God makes his law internal again, and implants it on the heart as it was at first, when he intends to give it power to produce obedience in his people: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts” (Jer. 31:31-33). …

“The written law,” says God, “will not do it; mercies and deliverances from distress will not effect it; trials and afflictions will not accomplish it.” “Then,” says the Lord, “will I take another course: I will turn the written law into an internal living principle in their hearts; and that will have such an efficacy as shall assuredly make them my people, and keep them so.”

Source: Owen, Indwelling Sin, Chapter 2 ‘What Kind Of Law Indwelling Sin Is’

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Let this be one part of our daily contending with God—that he would preserve our souls, and keep our hearts and our ways, that we be not entangled; that his good and wise providence will order our ways and affairs, that no pressing temptation befall us; that he would give us diligence, carefulness, and watchfulness over our own ways.

Store the heart with a sense of the love of God in Christ, and his love in the shedding of it; get a relish of the privileges we have thereby—our adoption, justification, acceptance with God; fill the heart with thoughts of the beauty of his death—and you will, in an ordinary course of walking with God, have great peace and security as to the disturbance of temptations. … Lay in store of gospel provisions that may make the soul a defensed place against all the assaults thereof.

Meet your temptation in its entrance with thoughts of faith concerning Christ on the cross; this will make it sink before you. Entertain no parley, no dispute with it, if you would not enter into it. Say, "‘It is Christ that died’— that died for such sins as these."

Suppose the soul has been surprised by temptation, and entangled at unawares, so that now it is too late to resist the first entrances of it. What shall such a soul do that it be not plunged into it, and carried away with the power thereof?

First, do as Paul did: beseech God again and again that it may "depart from you" … you shall certainly either be speedily delivered out of it, or receive a sufficiency of grace [so as] not to be foiled utterly by it.

Second, fly to Christ, in a peculiar manner, as he was tempted, and beg of him to give you succor in this "needful time of trouble." … Lie down at his feet, make your complaint known to him, beg his assistance, and it will not be in vain.

Third, look to him who has promised deliverance. Consider that he is faithful and will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able.

Owen says that God may bring relief by sending affliction to mortify the heart, by some act of providence, treading down of Satan under one’s feet, supply of grace or comfortable persuasion of good success or the utter removing of it.

Owen writes that the person "having a due acquaintance with the gospel in its excellencies, as to him a word of mercy, holiness, liberty, and consolation, values it, in all its concerns, as his choicest and only treasure—makes it his business and the work of his life to give himself up unto it in universal obedience, then especially when opposition and apostasy put the patience of Christ to the utmost—he shall be preserved from the hour of temptation."

"He that keeps close to Christ is crucified with him and is dead to all the desires of the flesh and the world (as more fully: Gal. 6:14). Here the match is broken, and all love, entangling love, dissolved. The heart is crucified to the world and all things in it."

Owen warns against the "liking and love of the things proposed, insinuated, commended in the temptation" that "be living and active in us". He warns believers "not so much employ your thoughts about the things whereunto you are tempted, which oftentimes raises further entanglements".

He that makes it his business to eat daily of the tree of life will have no appetite unto other fruit, though the tree that bear them seem to stand in the midst of paradise.

source: John Owen, Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of It (1658)

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