Owen, Of Communion With God, File 2
    (... continued from File 1)

    Part 1. Of Communion with each Person distinctly - Of Communion 
            with the Father   
    Chapter 1. That the saints have communion with God - 1 John 1: 
               3 considered to that purpose - Somewhat of the nature 
               of communion in general.   
        In the First Epistle of John, chap. 1, verse 3, the 
    apostle assures them to whom he wrote that the fellowship of 
    believers "is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:" 
    and this he does with such an unusual kind of expression as 
    bears the force of an asseveration; whence we have rendered 
    it, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son 
    Jesus Christ." 
        The outward appearance and condition of the saints in 
    those days being very mean and contemptible, - their leaders 
    being accounted as the filth of this world, and as the 
    offscouring of all things, - the inviting others unto 
    fellowship with them, and a participation of the precious 
    things which they did enjoy, seems to be exposed to many 
    contrary seasonings and objections: "What benefit is there in 
    communion with them? Is it any thing else but to be sharers in 
    troubles, reproaches, scorns, and all manner of evils?" To 
    prevent or remove these and the like exceptions, the apostle 
    gives them to whom he wrote to know (and that with some 
    earnestness of expression), that notwithstanding all the 
    disadvantages their fellowship lay under, unto a carnal view, 
    yet in truth it was, and would be found to be (in reference to 
    some with whom they held it), very honourable, glorious, and 
    desirable. For "truly," saith he, "our fellowship is with the 
    Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." 
        This being so earnestly and directly asserted by the 
    apostle, we may boldly follow him with our affirmation, - 
    namely, "That the saints of God have communion with him." And 
    a holy and spiritual communion it is, as shall be declared. 
    How this is spoken distinctly in reference to the Father and 
    the Son, must afterward be fully opened and carried on. 
        By nature, since the entrance of sin, no man has any 
    communion with God. He is light, we darkness; and what 
    communion has light with darkness? He is life, we are dead, - 
    he is love, and we are enmity; and what agreement can there be 
    between us? Men in such a condition have neither Christ, nor 
    hope, nor God in the world, Eph. 2: 12; "being alienated from 
    the life of God through the ignorance that is in them," chap. 
    4: 18. Now, two cannot walk together, unless they be agreed, 
    Amos 3: 3. Whilst there is this distance between God and man, 
    there is no walking together for them in any fellowship or 
    communion. Our first interest in God was so lost by sin, as 
    that there was left unto us (in ourselves) no possibility of a 
    recovery. As we had deprived ourselves of all power for a 
    return, so God had not revealed any way of access unto 
    himself; or that he could, under any consideration, be 
    approached unto by sinners in peace. Not any work that God had 
    made, not any attribute that he had revealed, could give the 
    least light into such a dispensation. 
        The manifestation of grace and pardoning mercy, which is 
    the only door of entrance into any such communion, is not 
    committed unto any but unto him atoned in whom it is, by whom 
    that grace and mercy was purchased, through whom it is 
    dispensed, who reveals it from the bosom of the Father. Hence 
    this communion and fellowship with God is not in express terms 
    mentioned in the Old Testament. The thing itself is found 
    there; but the clear light of it, and the boldness of faith in 
    it, is discovered in the gospel, and by the Spirit 
    administered therein. By that Spirit we have this liberty, 2 
    Cor. 3: 17, 18. Abraham was the friend, of God, Isa. 41: 8; 
    David, a man after his own heart; Enoch walked with him, Gen. 
    5: 22; - all enjoying this communion and fellowship for the 
    substance of it. But the way into the holiest was not yet made 
    manifest whilst the first tabernacle was standing, Heb. 9: 8. 
    Though they had communion with God, yet they had not 
    "parresian", - a boldness and confidence in that communion. 
    This follows the entrance of our High Priest into the most 
    holy place, Heb. 4: 16, 10: 19. The vail also was upon them, 
    that they had not "eleuterian", freedom and liberty in their 
    access to God, 2 Cor. 3: 15, 16, etc. But now in Christ we 
    have boldness and access with confidence to God, Eph. 3: 12. 
    This boldness and access with confidence the saints of old 
    were not acquainted with. By Jesus Christ alone, then, on all 
    considerations as to being and full manifestation, is this 
    distance taken away. He has consecrated for us a new and 
    living way (the old being quite shut up), "through the vail, 
    that is to say, his flesh," Heb. 10: 20; and "through him we 
    have access by one Spirit unto the Father," Eph. 2: 18. "Ye 
    who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of 
    Christ, for he is our peace," etc., verses 13, 14. Of this 
    foundation of all our communion with God, more afterward, and 
    at large. Upon this new bottom and foundation, by this new and 
    living way, are sinners admitted into communion with God, and 
    have fellowship with him. And truly, for sinners to have 
    fellowship with God, the infinitely holy God, is an 
    astonishing dispensation. To speak a little of it in general: 
    - Communion relates to things and persons. A joint 
    participation in any thing whatever, good or evil, duty or 
    enjoyment, nature or actions, gives this denomination to them 
    so partaking of it. A common interest in the same nature gives 
    all men a fellowship or communion therein. Of the elect it is 
    said, "Ta paidia kekoinoneke sarkos kai haimatos", Heb. 2: 14, 
    "Those children partook of" (or had fellowship in, with the 
    rest of the world) "flesh and blood," - the same common nature 
    with the rest of mankind; and, therefore, Christ also came 
    into the same fellowship: "Kai autos paraplesios metesche ton 
    auton". There is also a communion as to state and condition, 
    whether it be good or evil; and this, either in things 
    internal and spiritual, - such as is the communion of saints 
    among themselves; or in respect of outward things. So was it 
    with Christ and the two thieves, as to one condition, and to 
    one of them in respect of another. They were "en toi autoi 
    krimati", - under the same sentence to the cross, Luke 23: 40, 
    "ejusdem dolores socii." They had communion as to that evil 
    condition whereunto they were adjudged; and one of them 
    requested (which he also obtained) a participation in that 
    blessed condition whereupon our Saviour was immediately to 
    enter. There is also a communion or fellowship in actions, 
    whether good or evil. In good, is that communion and 
    fellowship in the gospel, or in the performance and 
    celebration of that worship of God which in the gospel is 
    instituted; which the saints do enjoy, Phil. 1: 5; which, as 
    to the general kind of it, David so rejoices in, Ps. 42: 4. In 
    evil, was that wherein Simon and Levi were brethren, Gen. 49: 
    5. They had communion in that cruel act of revenge and murder. 
    Our communion with God is not comprised in any one of these 
    kinds; of some of them it is exclusive. It cannot be natural; 
    it must be voluntary and by consent. It cannot be of state and 
    conditions; but in actions. It cannot be in the same actions 
    upon a third party; but in a return from one to another. The 
    infinite disparity that is between God and man, made the great 
    philosopher conclude that there could be no friendship between 
    them. Some distance in the persons holding friendship he could 
    allow, nor could exactly determine the bounds and extent 
    thereof; but that between God and man, in his apprehension, 
    left no place for it. Another says, indeed, that there is 
    "communitas homini cum Deo," - a certain fellowship between 
    God and man; but the general intercourse of providence is all 
    he apprehended. Some arose to higher expressions; but they 
    understood nothing whereof they spake. This knowledge is hid 
    in Christ; as will afterward be made to appear. It is too 
    wonderful for nature, as sinful and corrupted. Terror and 
    apprehensions of death at the presence of God is all that it 
    guides unto. But we have, as was said, a new foundation, and a 
    new discovery of this privilege. 
        Now, communion is the mutual communication of such good 
    things as wherein the persons holding that communion are 
    delighted, bottomed upon some union between them. So it was 
    with Jonathan and David; their souls clave to one another (1 
    Sam. 20: 17) in love. There was the union of love between 
    them; and then they really communicated all issues of love 
    mutually. In spiritual things this is more eminent: those who 
    enjoy this communion have the most excellent union for the 
    foundation of it; and the issues of that union, which they 
    mutually communicate, are the most precious and eminent. 
        Of the union which is the foundation of all that communion 
    we have with God I have spoken largely elsewhere, and have 
    nothing farther to add thereunto. 
        Our communion, then, with God consisteth in his 
    communication of himself unto us, with our returnal unto him 
    of that which he requireth and accepteth, flowing from that 
    unions which in Jesus Christ we have with him. And it is 
    twofold: - 1. Perfect and complete, in the full fruition of 
    his glory and total giving up of ourselves to him, resting in 
    him as our utmost end; which we shall enjoy when we see him as 
    he is; - and, 2. Initial and incomplete, in the first fruits 
    and dawnings of that perfection which we have here in grace; 
    which only I shall handle. 
        It is, then, I say, of that mutual communication in giving 
    and receiving, after a most holy and spiritual manner, which 
    is between God and the saints while they walk together in a 
    covenant of peace, ratified in the blood of Jesus, whereof we 
    are to treat. And this we shall do, if God permit; in the 
    meantime praying the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour 
    Jesus Christ, who has, of the riches of his grace, recovered 
    us from a state of enmity into a condition of communion and 
    fellowship with himself, that both he that writes, and they 
    that read the words of his mercy, may have such a taste of his 
    sweetness and excellencies therein, as to be stirred up to a 
    farther longing after the fulness of his salvation, and the 
    eternal fruition of him in glory.

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 3...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-02.txt