Page images
PDF
EPUB

auditors. Now the Doctor had opportunity of preaching publicly and setting up a lecture, to which, among others, many persons of quality and eminent citizens resorted; and his time was filled up with other useful studies, which produced several books both learned and practical. In the year 1668 he published his excellent “ Exposition of the cxxxth Psalm." This book is admirably calculated for the service of those who of all persons

in the world stand most in need of compassion, poor distressed souls in the depths of spiritual trouble; and contains as good an exemplification of the doctrine of repentance and gospel forgiveness as is any where to be met with. In this year also he published the first volume of his “Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews,” and the three other followed in their order, the last coming out in 1694. This is the work, together with the Exercitations, which is now presented to the public, and it is hoped, with regard to most readers, at least, in a more acceptable and useful form. Of this work, the largest and most elaborate he ever published, he speaks in the following terms: “It is now sundry years since I “purposed in myself, if God gave life and opportunity, “to endeavor, according to the measure of the gift re"ceived, an Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews; "and in the whole course of my studies have not been “without some regard thereunto: but yet I must now "say, that after all searching and reading, prayer and "assiduous meditations on the text have been my only "reserve; careful I have been, as of my life and soul, to “bring no prejudicate sense to the words, to impose no "meaning of my own, or other men's upon them, nor to “be imposed on by the reasonings, pretences, or curios“ities of any; but always went nakedly to the word it“self, to learn humbly the mind of God in it, and to ex"press it as he shall enable me.” To this I shall only subjoin the following account of it, drawn up by the publishers of his sermons and tracts, in their “ Memoirs "of his Life” prefixed to that volume: “It is not easy “for us to give a full account of the value and usefulness “of this work; it is filled with a great variety of learnwing, particularly rabbinical, which he has made ser“viceable to give light unto the subject matter chiefly streated of in this Epistle: with all he has taken care to -adapt his Exposition to the service of the faith and “comfort of Christians, and to recommend the practice “of the substantial duties of religion; so that it is hard “to say, whether the scholar or divine shine brightest “through this excellent work. Besides the Exposition “itself, there are very learned Exercitations, which serve ato illustrate many difficult parts of scripture, and to an“swer the design of the whole work; we shall only far“ther observe, that here the Doctor has enumerated all “the arguments, and answered all the main objections "of the Socinians, overthrown entirely their whole "scheme, and driven them out of the field; so that who"ever reads this work needs scarce any other for the as“sailing of their pernicious errors.”

$26. When the Bill against conventicles, drawn up in 1670 with the most rigorous severity, was sent up to the House of Lords, and debates arose upon it, the Doctor was desired to draw up some reasons against it, which he did; and it was laid before the Lords by several eminent citizens and gentlemen of distinction. This paper is called “The State of the Kingdom, with "respect to the present Bill against Conventicles;” but it did not prevail: the bill was carried, and passed into an act; all the Bishops were for it but two, viz. Dr. WilKINS, Bishop of Chester, and Dr. RAINBOW, Bishop of Carlisle, whose names ought to be mentioned with honer for their great moderation. This was executed with severity to the utter ruin of many persons and families. To this period we may refer, among other learned and religious publications, his “Discourse of the Holy Spirit.” At that time the opposition to the Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit, and all his gracious operations, rose to a very great height; and happy it was for the church of God, that this excellent person was raised to explain and defend this doctrine in so able a manner. One great objection against the work of the Spirit in his illumination, sanctification, and spiritual gifts, was, that those who plead for those operations are enemies to reason, and impugn the use of it in religion. Hence some peevishly affirmed, that it was cast on them as a reproach, “that they were rationul divines.” On which the Doctor observes: “As far as I can discern, if it be so, it is “as HIEROM was beaten by an angel for being a Ciceronian, in the judgment of some, very undeservedly." To follow our author through all his publications would require a moderate volume; for one while we find him writing a primer for children, and catechisms for youth; another while rules for church fellowship, and an investigation of the origin and nature of evangelical churches; at one time assisting the weakest in the faith, and at another developing the sublime mysteries of Christianity; one while he turns his learned weapons against the various troops of heretics that surround him, another while he contends for liberty and toleration, in opposition to the persecuting zeal of bigots. The following treatises, however, in addition to those already mentioned, must not be left unnoticed as highly deserving the warm esteem of the evangelical world, viz. “The Doctrine of Justification by Faith through the “Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ, explained, “confirmed, and vindicated,” Xposlonovia: or, “A Dec"laration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of "Christ, God and Man.” Such a strain of piety, zeal, and learning runs through the whole of this work, as renders it worthy of the most serious perusal of all, and especially ministers, and will endear his memory to all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Þpovnja TOU TVEUud?os: or, "The Grace and Duty of being spir“itually minded.” It was composed out of his own deep and spiritual meditations, originally designed for his own use, not long before his death; and in it he breathes out the sentiments and devotion of a mind full of heaven. He observed and bewailed the carnal frames and lives of professors, and the prevalence of the world over their minds and affections, which, as it were, corrode the very vitals of true religion. This discourse, which has been judiciously abridged by the Rev. Dr. Mayo, is designed as an antidote against this growing evil, and calculated to promote a spiritual and heavenly frame of mind, and it is earnestly recommended to the diligent perusal of all Christians of the present day, wherein this dangerous disease of worldly mindedness so evidently abounds. In his “Meditations on the “Glory of Christ, in two parts, we have an ample testimony of that pious and heavenly frame, that clear and intimate knowledge of the glory of Christ, and that fervent love to his divine Person, by which the Doctor's experience was eminently distinguished; there he thinks and writes like one that was in a full and near view of unveiled glory.*

* The excellent Mr. HERVEY speaks of this piece in the fol. lowing terms: “To see the Glory of Christ, is the grand blessing “which our Lord solicits and demands for his disciples, in his "last solemn intercession, John xvii, 24. Should the reader de"sire assistance in this important work, I would refer him to a “Jittle Treatise of Dr. Owen's, entitled, “Meditations on the “Glory of Christ:" it is little in size, not so in value. Was I to "speak of it, in the classical style, I should call it, aureus, gemme. *s, mellitus. But I would rather say, it is richly replenished VOL. I.

4

$27. The writings which he thus continually produced, drew upon him the admiration and respect of several persons of honor, who were much delighted in his conversation; particularly the Earl of ORRERY, the Earl of ANGLESEA, Lord WILLOUGHBY, of Parham, Lord WHARTON, Lord BERKLEY, and Sir John TREVOR. When he was at Tunbridge the Duke of YORK sent for him, and several times discoursed with him concerning the Dissenters, &c. and after his return to London he was sent for by King Charles himself, who discoursed with him two hours, assuring him of his favor and respect, telling him that he might have access to him when he would: at the same time he assured the Doctor he was for liberty of conscience, and was sensible of the wrong that had been done to Dissenters, as a testimony of which he gave him a thousand guineas to distribute among those who had suffered the most. This he thankfully accepted, and faithfully applied. The Doctor had some friends also among the Bishops, particu

“with that unction from the Holy One, which tends to enlighten “the eyes, and cheer the heart; which sweetens the enjoyments tof life, softens the horrors of death, and prepares for the fruiutions of eternity." Ther. and Aspasio, vol. iii, p. 75. Lond. 1767. The same writer, speaking of the Puritan Divines, places with propriety our author as foremost; and as the other names he mentions are accompanied with short characters, beautifully expres. sive of their respective peculiar excellencies, the reader will be pleased with them: “Dr. Owen, with his correct judgment, and wan immense fund of learning. Mr. CHARNOCK, with his mas“culine style, and an inexhaustible vein of thought. Dr. Good“WIN, with sentiments eminently evangelical, and a most happy “talent at opening, sifting, and displaying the hidden riches of "scripture.” These, I think, are the first three: Then comes “Mr. Howe, nervous and majestic; with all the powers of im"agery at his command. Dr. BATEs, fluent and polished; with a "never-ceasing store of beautiful similitudes. Mr. FLAVEL, "fervent and affectionate; with a masterly hand at probing the "conscience, and striking the passions. Mr. CARYL, Dr. MAN“TON, Mr. Pool, with many others; whose works will speak for “them ten thousand times better than the tongue of Pane"gyric, or the pen of Biography." Id. vol. i, p. 206.

« PreviousContinue »