Owen, Of Communion With God, File 8
    (... continued from File 7)

     Chapter 3. Of the way and manner whereby the saints hold  
                communion with the Lord Christ as to personal  
                grace - The conjugal relation between Christ and  
                the saints, Cant. 2: 16, Isa. 54: 5, etc.; Cant.  
                3: 11, opened - The way of communion in conjugal  
                relation, Hos. 3: 3; Cant. 1: 15 - On the part 
                of Christ - On the part of the saints.   

        (2.) The next thing that comes under consideration is, the
    way whereby we hold communion with the Lord Christ, in respect
    of that personal grace whereof we have spoken. Now, this the
    Scripture manifests to be by the way of a conjugal relation.
    He is married unto us, and we unto him; which spiritual
    relation is attended with suitable conjugal affections. And
    this gives us fellowship with him as to his personal
        This the spouse expresseth, Cant. 2: 16, "My Beloved is
    mine, and I am his;" - "He is mine, I possess him, I have
    interest in him, as my head and my husband; and I am his,
    possessed of him, owned by him, given up unto him: and that as
    to my Beloved in a conjugal relation."
        So Isa. 54: 5, "Thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of
    hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel;
    The God of the whole earth shall he be called." This is
    yielded as the reason why the church shall not be ashamed nor
    confounded, in the midst of her troubles and trials, - she is
    married unto her Maker, and her Redeemer is her husband. And
    Isaiah, chap. 61: 10, setting out the mutual glory of Christ
    and his church in their walking together, he saith it is "as a
    bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride
    adorneth herself with jewels." Such is their condition,
    because such is their relation; which he also farther
    expresseth, chap. 62: 5, "As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the
    bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." As it is with such
    persons in the day of their espousals, in the day of the
    gladness of their hearts, so is it with Christ and his saints
    in this relation. He is a husband to them, providing that it
    may be with them according to the state and condition
    whereinto he has taken them.
        To this purpose we have his faithful engagement, Hos. 2:
    19, 20, "I will," saith he, "betroth thee unto me for ever;
    yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in
    judgement, and in loving- kindness, and in mercies. I will
    even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness." And it is the main
    design of the ministry of the gospel, to prevail with men to
    give up themselves unto the Lord Christ, as he reveals his
    kindness in this engagement. Hence Paul tells the Corinthians,
    2 Cor. 11: 2, that he had "espoused them unto one husband,
    that he might present them as a chaste virgin unto Christ."
    This he had prevailed upon them for, by the preaching of the
    gospel, that they should give up themselves as a virgin, unto
    him who had betrothed them to himself as a husband.
        And this is a relation wherein the Lord Jesus is
    exceedingly delighted, and inviteth others to behold him in
    this his glory, Cant. 3: it, "Go forth," saith he, "O ye
    daughters of Jerusalem, and behold king Solomon with the crown
    wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals,
    and in the day of the gladness of his heart." He calls forth
    the daughters of Jerusalem (all sorts of professors) to
    consider him in the condition of betrothing and espousing his
    church unto himself. Moreover, he tells them that they shall
    find on him two things eminently upon this account: - 1.
    Honour. It is the day of his coronation, and his spouse is the
    crown wherewith he is crowned. For as Christ is a diadem of
    beauty and a crown of glory unto Zion, Isa. 28: 5; so Zion
    also is a diadem and a crown unto him, Isa. 62: 3. Christ
    makes this relation with his saints to be his glory and his
    honour. 2. Delight. The day of his espousals, of taking poor
    sinful souls into his bosom, is the day of the gladness of his
    heart. John was but the friend of the Bridegroom, that stood
    and heard his voice, when he was taking his bride unto
    himself; and he rejoiced greatly, John 3: 29: how much more,
    then, must be the joy and gladness of the Bridegroom himself!
    even that which is expressed, Zeph. 3: 17, "he rejoiceth with
    joy, he joys with singing."
        It is the gladness of the heart of Christ, the joy of his
    soul, to take poor sinners into this relation with himself. He
    rejoiced in the thoughts of it from eternity, Prov. 8: 31; and
    always expresseth the greatest willingness to undergo the hard
    task required thereunto, Ps. 40: 7, 8; Heb. 10: 7; yea, he was
    pained as a woman in travail, until he had accomplished it,
    Luke 12: 50. Because he loved his church, he gave himself for
    it, Eph. 5: 25, despising the shame, and enduring the cross,
    Heb. 12: 2, that he might enjoy his bride, - that he might be
    for her, and she for him, and not for another, Hos. 3: 3. This
    is joy, when he is thus crowned by his mother. It is believers
    that are mother and brother of this Solomon, Matt. 12: 49, 50.
    They crown him in the day of his espousals, giving themselves
    to him, and becoming his glory, 2 Cor. 8: 23.
        Thus he sets out his whole communion with his church under
    this allusion, and that most frequently. The time of his
    taking the church unto himself is the day of his marriage; and
    the church is his bride, his wife, Rev. 19: 7, 8. The
    entertainment he makes for his saints is a wedding supper,
    Matt. 22: 3. The graces of his church are the ornaments of his
    queen, Ps. 45: 9-14; and the fellowship he has with his saints
    is as that which those who are mutually beloved in a conjugal
    relation do hold, Cant. 1. Hence Paul, in describing these
    two, makes sudden and insensible transitions from one to the
    other, - Eph. 5, from verse 22 unto verse 32; concluding the
    whole with an application unto Christ and the church.
        It is now to be inquired, in the next place, how it is
    that we hold communion with the person of Christ in respect of
    conjugal relations and affections, and wherein this does
    consist. Now, herein there are some things that are common
    unto Christ and the saints, and some things that are peculiar
    to each of them, as the nature of this relation does require.
    The whole may be reduced unto these two heads: - [1.] A mutual
    resignation of themselves one to the other; [2.] Mutual,
    consequential, conjugal affections. 
        [1.] There is a mutual resignation, or making over of
    their persons one to another. This is the first act of
    communion, as to the personal grace of Christ. Christ makes
    himself over to the soul, to be his, as to all the love, care,
    and tenderness of a husband; and the soul gives up itself
    wholly unto the Lord Christ, to be his, as to all loving,
    tender obedience. And herein is the main of Christ's and the
    saints' espousals. This, in the prophet, is set out under a
    parable of himself and a harlot, Hos. 3: 3, "Thou shalt abide
    for me," saith he unto her, "thou shalt not be for another,
    and I will be for thee." - "Poor harlot," saith the Lord
    Christ, "I have bought thee unto myself with the price of mine
    own blood; and now, this is that which we will consent unto, -
        1st. Christ gives himself to the soul, with all his
    excellencies, righteousness, preciousness, graces, and
    eminencies, to be its Saviour, head, and husband, for ever to
    dwell with it in this holy relation. He looks upon the souls
    of his saints, likes them well, counts them fair and
    beautiful, because he has made them so. Cant. 1: 15, "Behold,
    thou art fair, my companion; behold, thou art fair; thou hast
    doves' eyes." Let others think what they please, Christ
    redoubles it, that the souls of his saints are very beautiful,
    even perfect, through his comeliness, which he puts upon them,
    Ezek. 16: 14, - "Behold, thou art fair, thou art fair:"
    particularly, that their spiritual light is very excellent and
    glorious; like the eyes of a dove, tender, discerning, clear,
    and shining. Therefore he adds that pathetical wish of the
    enjoyment of this his spouse, Cant. 2: 14, "O my dove," saith
    he, "that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places
    of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy
    voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely;"
    - "Do not hide thyself, as one that flies to the clefts of the
    rocks; be not dejected, as one that hides herself behind the
    stairs, and is afraid to come forth to the company that
    inquires for her. Let not thy spirit be cast down at the
    weakness of thy supplications, let me yet hear thy sighs and
    groans, thy breathing and partings to me; they are very sweet,
    very delightful: and thy spiritual countenance, thy appearance
    in heavenly things, is comely and delightful unto me." Neither
    does he leave her thus, but, chap. 4: 8, presseth her hard to
    a closer [union] with him in this conjugal bond: "Come with me
    from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the
    top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Herman, from the
    lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards;" - "Thou art
    in a wandering condition (as the Israelites of old), among
    lions and leopards, sins and troubles; come from thence unto
    me, and I will give thee refreshment," Matt. 11: 28. Upon this
    invitation, the spouse boldly concludes, Cant. 7: 10, that the
    desire of Christ is towards her; that he does indeed love her,
    and aim at taking her into this fellowship with himself. So,
    in carrying on this union, Christ freely bestoweth himself
    upon the soul. Precious and excellent as he is, he becometh
    ours. He makes himself to be so; and with him, all his graces.
    Hence saith the spouse, "'My Beloved is mine;' in all that he
    is, he is mine." Because he is righteousness, he is "The LORD
    our Righteousness," Jer. 23: 6. Because he is the wisdom of
    God, and the power of God, he is "made unto us wisdom," etc.,
    1 Cor. 1: 30. Thus, "the branch of the LORD is beautiful and
    glorious, and the fruit of the earth is excellent and comely
    for them that are escaped of Israel," Isa. 4: 2. This is the
    first thing on the part of Christ, - the free donation and
    bestowing of himself upon us to be our Christ, our Beloved, as
    to all the ends and purposes of love, mercy, grace, and glory;
    whereunto in his mediation he is designed, in a marriage
    covenant never to be broken. This is the sum of what is
    intended: - The Lord Jesus Christ, fitted and prepared, by the
    accomplishment and furniture of his person as mediator, and
    the large purchase of grace and glory which he has made, to be
    a husband to his saints, his church, tenders himself in the
    promises of the gospel to them in all his desirableness;
    convinces them of his good-will towards them, and his
    all-sufficiency for a supply of their wants; and upon their
    consent to accept of him, - which is all he requires or
    expects at their hands, - he engageth himself in a marriage
    covenant to be theirs for ever.
        2dly. On the part of the saints, it is their free, willing
    consent to receive, embrace, and submit unto the Lord Jesus,
    as their husband, Lord, and Saviour, - to abide with him,
    subject their souls unto him, and to be ruled by him for ever.
        Now, this in the soul is either initial, or the solemn
    consent at the first entrance of union; or consequential, in
    renewed acts of consent all our days. I speak of it especially
    in this latter sense, wherein it is proper unto communion; not
    in the former, wherein it primarily intendeth union.
        There are two things that complete this self-resignation
    of the soul: -
        (1st.) The liking of Christ, for his excellency, grace,
    and suitableness, far above all other beloveds whatever,
    preferring him in the judgement and mind above them all. In
    the place above mentioned, Cant. 5: 9, the spouse being
    earnestly pressed, by professors at large, to give in her
    thoughts concerning the excellency of her Beloved in
    comparison of other endearments, answereth expressly, that he
    is "the chiefest of ten thousand, yea," verse 16, "altogether
    lovely," infinitely beyond comparison with the choicest
    created good or endearment imaginable. The soul takes a view
    of all that is in this world, "the lust of the flesh, the lust
    of the eyes, and the pride of life," and sees it all to be
    vanity, - that "the world passeth away, and the lust thereof,"
    1 John 2: 16, 17. These beloveds are no way to be compared
    unto him. It views also legal righteousness, blamelessness
    before men, uprightness of conversation, duties upon
    conviction, and concludes of all as Paul does, Phil. 3: 8,
    "Doubtless, I count all these things loss for the excellency
    of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." So, also, does the
    church, Hos. 14: 3, reject all appearing assistance whatever,
    - as goodly as Asshur, as promising as idols, - that God alone
    may be preferred. And this is the soul's entrance into
    conjugal communion with Jesus Christ as to personal grace, -
    the constant preferring him above all pretenders to its
    affections, counting all loss and dung in comparison of him.
    Beloved peace, beloved natural relations, beloved wisdom and
    learning, beloved righteousness, beloved duties, [are] all
    loss, compared with Christ.
        (2dly.) The accepting of Christ by the will, as its only
    husband, Lord, and Saviour. This is called "receiving" of
    Christ, John 1: 12; and is not intended only for that solemn
    act whereby at first entrance we close with him, but also for
    the constant frame of the soul in abiding with him and owning
    of him as such. When the soul consents to take Christ on his
    own terms, to save him in his own way, and says, "Lord, I
    would have had thee and salvation in my way, that it might
    have been partly of mine endeavours, and as it were by the
    works of the law; I am now willing to receive thee and to be
    saved in thy way, - merely by grace: and though I would have
    walked according is my own mind, yet now I wholly give up
    myself to be ruled by thy Spirit: for in thee have I
    righteousness and strength, in thee am I justified and do
    glory;" - then does it carry on communion with Christ as to
    the grace of his person. This it is to receive the Lord Jesus
    in his comeliness and eminency. Let believers exercise their
    hearts abundantly unto this thing. This is choice communion
    with the Son Jesus Christ. Let us receive him in all his
    excellencies, as he bestows himself upon us; - be frequent in
    thoughts of faith, comparing him with other beloveds, sin,
    world, legal righteousness; and preferring him before them,
    counting them all loss and dung in comparison of him. And let
    our souls be persuaded of his sincerity and willingness in
    giving himself, in all that he is, as mediator unto us, to be
    ours; and let our hearts give up themselves unto him. Let us
    tell him that we will be for him, and not for another: let him
    know it from us; he delights to hear it, yea, he says, "Sweet
    is our voice, and our countenance is comely;" - and we shall
    not fail in the issue of sweet refreshment with him.

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 9...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-08.txt