Monday, October 19, 2015

Highlights of John Owen's "The Glory of Christ" (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1.

Chapter VI. The glory of Christ in the discharge of his mediatory office.

  • "It is our duty to endeavour after freedom, willingness, and cheerfulness in all our obedience. Obedience has its formal nature from our wills. So much as there is of our wills in what we do towards God, so much there is of obedience, and no more. Howbeit we are, antecedently unto all acts of our own wills, obliged unto all that is called obedience. From the very constitution of our natures we are necessarily subject unto the law of God."
  • "He unto whom prayer was made, prayed himself night and day. He whom all the angels of heaven and all creatures worshipped, was continually conversant in all the duties of the worship of God. He who was over the house, diligently observed the meanest office of the house. He that made all men, in whose hand they are all as clay in the hand of the potter, observed amongst them the strictest rules of justice, in giving unto every one his due; and of charity, in giving good things that were not so due. This is that which renders the obedience of Christ in the discharge of his office both mysterious and glorious."
  • "We might here look on him as under the weight of the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; taking on himself, and on his whole soul, the utmost of evil that God had ever threatened to sin or sinners. We might look on him in his agony and bloody sweat, in his strong cries and supplications, when he was sorrowful unto the death, and began to be amazed, in apprehensions of the things that were coming on him, -- of that dreadful trial which he was entering into. We might look upon him conflicting with all the powers of darkness, the rage and madness of men, -- suffering in his soul, his body, his name, his reputation, his goods, his life; some of these sufferings being immediate from God above, others from devils and wicked men, acting according to the determinate counsel of God. We might look on him praying, weeping, crying out, bleeding, dying, -- in all things making his soul an offering for sin; so was he 'taken from prison, and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off from the land of the living: for the transgression,' says God, 'of my people was he smitten,' Isa. liii. 8. But these things I shall not insist on in particular, but leave them under such a veil as may give us a prospect into them, so far as to fill our souls with holy admiration."
  • "How glorious is the Lord Christ on this account, in the eyes of believers! When Adam had sinned, and thereby eternally, according unto the sanction of the law, ruined himself and all his posterity, he stood ashamed, afraid, trembling, as one ready to perish for ever, under the displeasure of God. Death was that which he had deserved, and immediate death was that which he looked for. In this state the Lord Christ in the promise comes unto him, and says, Poor creature! how woeful is thy condition! how deformed is thy appearance! What is become of the beauty, of the glory of that image of God wherein thou wast created? how hast thou taken on thee the monstrous shape and image of Satan? And yet thy present misery, thy entrance into dust and darkness, is no way to be compared with what is to ensue. Eternal distress lies at the door. But yet look up once more, and behold me, that thou mayest have some glimpse of what is in the designs of infinite wisdom, love, and grace. Come forth from thy vain shelter, thy hiding-place I will put myself into thy condition. I will undergo and bear that burden of guilt and punishment which would sink thee eternally into the bottom of hell. I will pay that which I never took; and be made temporally a curse for thee, that thou mayest attain unto eternal blessedness. To the same purpose he speaks unto convinced sinners, in the invitation he gives them to come unto him."

 Chapter VII. The glory of Christ in his exaltation after the accomplishment ofthe work of mediation in this world.

  • "So much as we know of Christ, his sufferings, and his glory, so much do we understand of the Scripture, and no more.

    These are the two heads of the mediation of Christ and his kingdom, and this is their order which they communicate unto the church, -- first sufferings, and then glory: 'If we suffer, we shall also reign with him,' 2 Tim. ii. 12. They do but deceive themselves who design any other method of these things. Some would reign here in this world; and we may say, with the apostle, 'Would you did reign, that we might reign with you.' But the members of the mystical body must be conformed unto the Head. In him sufferings went before glory; and so they must in them. The order in the kingdom of Satan and the world is contrary hereunto. First the good things of this life, and then eternal misery, is the method of that kingdom, Luke xvi. 25."
  • "But yet this is not that properly wherein the glory of Christ in his exaltation, after his humiliation and death, does consist. The things that belong unto it may be reduced unto the ensuing heads.

    1. It consisteth in the exaltation of the human nature, as subsisting in the divine person, above the whole creation of God in power, dignity, authority, and rule, with all things that the wisdom of God has appointed to render the glory of it illustrious. I have so largely insisted on the explication and confirmation of this part of the present glory of Christ, in the exposition of Heb. i. 2, 3, that I have nothing more to add thereunto.

    2. It does so in the evidence given of the infinite love of God the Father unto him, and his delight in him, with the eternal approbation of his discharge of the office committed unto him. Hence he is said 'to sit at the right hand of God,' or at 'the right hand of the majesty on high.' That the glory and dignity of Christ in his exaltation is singular, the highest that can be given to a creature, incomprehensible; -- that he is, with respect unto the discharge of his office, under the eternal approbation of God; -- that, as so gloriously exalted, he is proclaimed unto the whole creation, -- are all contained in this expression.

    3. Hereunto is added the full manifestation of his own divine wisdom, love, and grace, in the work of mediation and redemption of the church. This glory is absolutely singular and peculiar unto him. Neither angels nor men have the least interest in it. Here, we see it darkly as in a glass; above, it shines forth in its brightness, to the eternal joy of them who behold him."
  • "This is the sole foundation of all our meditations herein. The glory that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the real actual possession of in heaven can be no otherwise seen or apprehended in this world, but in the light of faith fixing itself on divine revelation. To behold this glory of Christ is not an act of fancy or imagination. It does not consist in framing unto ourselves the shape of a glorious person in heaven. But the steady exercise of faith on the revelation and description made of this glory of Christ in the Scripture, is the ground, rule, and measure, of all divine meditations thereon."

Chapter VIII. Representations of the glory of Christ under the Old Testament.

  • "A few days, a few hours spent in the frame characterised in it, is a blessedness excelling all the treasures of the earth; and if we, whose revelations of the same glory do far exceed theirs, should be found to come short of them in ardency of affection unto Christ, and continual holy admiration of his excellencies, we shall one day be judged unworthy to have received them."
  • "He was as yet God only; but appeared in the assumed shape of a man, to signify what he would be. He did not create a human nature, and unite it unto himself for such a season; only by his divine power he acted the shape of a man composed of what ethereal substance he pleased, immediately to be dissolved. So he appeared to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses, to Joshua, and others; as I have at large elsewhere proved and confirmed. And hereon, also, because he was the divine person who dwelt in and dwelt with the church, under the Old Testament, from first to last, in so doing he constantly assumes unto himself human affections, to intimate that a season would come when he would immediately act in that nature. And, indeed, after the fall there is nothing spoken of God in the Old Testament, nothing of his institutions, nothing of the way and manner of dealing with the church, but what has respect unto the future incarnation of Christ. And it had been absurd to bring in God under perpetual anthropopathies, as grieving, repenting, being angry, well pleased, and the like, were it not but that the divine person intended was to take on him the nature wherein such affections do dwell."
  • "Of the same nature was his glorious appearance on mount Sinai at the giving of the law, Exod. xix.; -- for the description thereof by the Psalmist, Ps. lxviii. 17, 18, is applied by the apostle unto the ascension of Christ after his resurrection, Eph. iv. 8. Only, as it was then full of outward terror, because of the giving of the fiery law, it was referred unto by the Psalmist as full of mercy, with respect unto his accomplishment of the same law. His giving of it was as death unto them concerned, because of its holiness, and the severity of the curse wherewith it was attended; his fulfilling of it was life, by the pardon and righteousness which issued from thence."
  • "Nor can we read, study, or meditate on the writings of the Old Testament unto any advantage, unless we design to find out and behold the glory of Christ, declared and represented in them. For want hereof they are a sealed book to many unto this day."

Chapter IX. The glory of Christ in his intimate conjunction with the church.

  • "There is a greater, a more intimate conjunction, a nearer relation, a higher mutual interest, between Christ and the church, than ever was or can be between any other persons or relations in the world, whereon it became just and equal in the sight of God that he should suffer for us, and that what he did and suffered would be imputed unto us."
  • "In his cross were divine holiness and vindictive justice exercised and manifested; and through his triumph, grace and mercy are exerted to the utmost. This is that glory which ravisheth the hearts and satiates the souls of them that believe. For what can they desire more, what is farther needful unto the rest and composure of their souls, than at one view to behold God eternally well pleased in the declaration of his righteousness and the exercise of his mercy, in order unto their salvation? In due apprehensions hereof let my soul live; -- in the faith hereof let me die, and let present admiration of this glory make way for the eternal enjoyment of it in its beauty and fulness."

 Chapter X. The glory of Christ in the communication of himself unto believers.

  • "This, therefore, is herein the glorious order of divine communications. From the infinite, eternal spring of wisdom, grace, goodness and love, in the Father, -- all the effects whereof unto this end were treasured up in the person and mediation of the Son, -- the Holy Spirit, unto whom the actual application of them is committed, communicates life, light, power, grace, and mercy, unto all that are designed parts of the new creation. Hereon does God glorify both the essential properties of his nature, -- his infinite wisdom, power, goodness, and grace, -- as the only eternal spring of all these things, and also his ineffable glorious existence in three persons by the order of the communication of these things unto the church, which are originally from his nature. And herein is the glorious truth of the blessed Trinity, -- which by some is opposed, by some neglected, by most looked on as that which is so much above them as that it does not belong unto them, -- made precious unto them that believe, and becomes the foundation of their faith and hope. In a view of the glorious order of those divine communications, we are in a steady contemplation of the ineffable glory of the existence of the nature of God in the three distinct persons of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
  • "He gives and communicates unto them his Holy Spirit; -- the Holy Spirit as peculiarly his, as granted unto him of the Father, as inhabiting in him in all fulness. This Spirit -- abiding originally as to his person, and immeasurably as unto his effects and operations, in himself -- he gives unto all believers, to inhabit and abide in them also, John xiv. 14-20; 1 Cor. vi. 17; Rom. viii. 9. Hence follows an ineffable union between him and them. For as in his incarnation he took our nature into personal union with his own; so herein he takes our persons into a mystical union with himself. Hereby he becomes ours, and we are his."
  • "But the same divine nature it is that is in him and us; for, through the precious promises of the Gospel, we are made partakers of his Divine nature. It is not enough for us that he has taken our nature to be his, unless he gives us also his nature to be ours; -- that is, implants in our souls all those gracious qualifications, as unto the essence and substance of them, wherewith he himself in his human nature is endued. This is that new man, that new creature, that divine nature, that spirit which is born of the Spirit, that transformation into the image of Christ, that putting of him on, that worship of God whereunto in him we are created, that the Scripture so fully testifieth unto, John iii. 6; Rom vi. 3-8; 2 Cor. iii. 18; v. 17; Eph. iv. 20-24; 2 Peter i. 4."

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