Owen, Of Communion With God, File 23
    (... continued from File 22)

     Chapter 5. Some observations and inferences from discourses 
                foregoing concerning the Spirit - The contempt  
                of the whole administration of the Spirit by  
                some - The vain pretence of the Spirit by others 
                - The false spirit discovered. 
        This process being made, I should now show immediately,
    how we hold the communion proposed with the Holy Ghost, in the
    things laid down and manifested to contain his peculiar work
    towards us; but there are some miscarriages in the world in
    reference unto this dispensation of the Holy Ghost, both on
    the one hand and the other, in contempt of his true work and
    pretence of that which is not, that I cannot but remark in my
    passage: which to do shall be the business of this chapter.  
        Take a view, then, of the state and condition of them who,
    professing to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, do yet
    condemn and despise his Spirit, as to all its operations,
    gifts, graces, and dispensations to his churches and saints.
    Whilst Christ was in the world with his disciples, he made
    them no greater promise, neither in respect of their own good
    nor of carrying on the work which he had committed to them,
    than this of giving them the Holy Ghost. Him he instructeth
    them to pray for of the Father, as that which is needful for
    them, as bread for children, Luke 11: 13. Him he promiseth
    them, as a well of water springing up in them, for their
    refreshment, strengthening, and consolation unto everlasting
    life, John 7: 37-39; as also to carry on and accomplish the
    whole work of the ministry to them committed, John 16: 8-11;
    with all those eminent works and privileges before mentioned.
    And upon his ascension, this is laid as the bottom of that
    glorious communication of gifts and graces in his plentiful
    effusion mentioned, Eph. 4: 8, 11, 12, - namely, that he had
    received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, Act 2:
    33; and that in such an eminent manner as thereby to make the
    greatest and most glorious difference between the
    administration of the new covenant and old. Especially does
    the whole work of the ministry relate to the Holy Ghost;
    though that be not my present business to evince. He calls men
    to that work, and they are separated unto him, Acts 13:2; he
    furnisheth them with gifts and abilities for that employment,
    1 Cor. 12: 7-10. So that the whole religion we profess,
    without this administration of the Spirit, is nothing; nor is
    there any fruit without it of the resurrection of Christ from
    the dead.  
        This being the state of things, - that in our worship of
    and obedience to God, in our own consolation, sanctification,
    and ministerial employment, the Spirit is the principle, the
    life, soul, the all of the whole; yet so desperate has been
    the malice of Satan, and wickedness of men, that their great
    endeavour has been to shut him quite out of all gospel
        First, his gifts and graces were not only decried, but
    almost excluded from the public worship of the church, by the
    imposition of an operose form of service, to be read by the
    minister; which to do is neither a peculiar gift of the Holy
    Ghost to any, nor of the ministry at all. It is marvellous to
    consider what pleas and pretences were invented and used by
    learned men, - from its antiquity, its composure and
    approbation by martyrs, the beauty of uniformity in the
    worship of God, established and pressed thereby, etc., - for
    the defence and maintenance of it. But the main argument they
    insisted on, and the chief field wherein they expatiated and
    laid out all their eloquence, was the vain babbling
    repetitions and folly of men praying by the Spirit. When once
    this was fallen upon, all (at least as they supposed) was
    carried away before them, and their adversaries rendered
    sufficiently ridiculous: so great is the cunning of Satan, and
    so unsearchable are the follies of the hearts of men. The sum
    of all these seasonings amounts to no more but this, - "Though
    the Lord Jesus Christ has promised the Holy Ghost to be with
    his church to the end of the world, to fit and furnish men
    with gifts and abilities for the carrying on of that worship
    which he requires and accepteth at our hands, yet the work is
    not done to the purpose; the gifts he bestows are not
    sufficient to that end, neither as to invocation nor doctrine:
    and, therefore, we will not only help men by our directions,
    but exclude them from their exercise." This; I say, was the
    sum of all, as I could undeniably evidence, were that my
    present business, what innumerable evils ensue on this
    principle, in a formal setting apart of men to the ministry
    who had never once "tasted of the powers of the world to
    come," nor received any gifts from the Holy Ghost to that
    purpose; of crying up and growing in an outside pompous
    worship, wholly foreign to the power and simplicity of the
    gospel; of silencing, destroying, banishing, men whose
    ministry was accompanied with the evidence and demonstration
    of the Spirit, - I shall not need to declare. This is that I
    aim at, to point out the public contempt of the Holy Ghost,
    his gifts and graces, with their administration in the church
    of God, that has been found even where the gospel has been
        Again: it is a thing of most sad consideration, once to
    call to mind the improvement of that principle of contempt of
    the Spirit in private men and their ways. The name of the
    Spirit was grown a term of reproach. To plead for, or pretend
    to pray by, the Spirit, was enough to render a man the object
    of scorn and reproach from all sorts of men, from the pulpit
    to the stage. "What! you are full of the Spirit; you will pray
    by the Spirit; you have the gift: let us hear your nonsense;"
    - and yet, perhaps, these men would think themselves wronged
    not to be accounted Christians. Christians! yea, have not some
    pretending themselves to be leaders of the flock, - yea,
    mounted a storey or two above their brethren, and claiming a
    rule and government over them, - made it their business to
    scoff at and reproach the gifts of the Spirit of God? And if
    this were the frame of their spirit, what might be expected
    from others of professed profaneness? It is not imaginable to
    what height of blasphemy the process in this kind amounted.
    The Lord grant there be nothing of this cursed leaven still
    remaining amongst us! Some bleatings of ill importance are
    sometimes heard. Is this the fellowship of the Holy Ghost that
    believers are called unto? Is this the due entertainment of
    him whom our Saviour promised to send for the supply of his
    bodily absence, so as we might be no losers thereby? Is it not
    enough that men should be contented with such a stupid
    blindness, as, being called Christians, to look no farther for
    their comfort and consolation than moral considerations common
    to heathens would lead them, when one infinitely holy and
    blessed person of the Trinity has taken this office upon him
    to be our comforter, but they must oppose and despise him
    also? Nothing more discovers how few there are in the world
    that have interest in that blessed name whereby we are all
    called. But this is no place to pursue this discourse. The aim
    of this discourse is, to evince the folly and madness of men
    in general, who profess to own the gospel of Christ, and yet
    condemn and despise his Spirit, in whomsoever he is
    manifested. Let us be zealous of the gifts of the Spirit, not
    envious at them.  
        From what has been discoursed we may also try the spirits
    that are gone abroad in the world, and which have been
    exercising themselves, at several seasons, ever since the
    ascension of Christ. The iniquity of the generation that is
    past and passing away lay in open, cursed opposition to the
    Holy Ghost. God has been above them, wherein they behaved
    themselves presumptuously. Satan, whose design, as he is god
    of this world, is to be uppermost, not to dwell wholly in any
    form cast down by the providence of God, has now transformed
    himself into an angel of light; and he will pretend the Spirit
    also and only. But there are "seducing spirits," 1 Tim. 4: l;
    and we have a "command not to believe every spirit, but try
    the spirits," 1 John 4: 1; and the reason added is, "Because
    many false prophets are gone out into the world;" - that is,
    men pretending to the revelation of new doctrines by the
    Spirit; whose deceits in the first church Paul intimateth, 2
    Thess. 2:2; calling on men not to be "shaken in mind by
    spirit." The truth is, the spirits of these days are so gross,
    that a man of a very easy discerning may find them out and yet
    their delusion so strong, that not a few are deceived. This is
    one thing that lies evident to every eye, - that, according to
    his wonted course, Satan, with his delusions, is run into an
    extreme to his former acting.  
        Not long since, his great design, as I manifested, was to
    cry up ordinances without the Spirit, casting all the reproach
    that he could upon him; - now, to cry up a spirit without and
    against ordinances, casting all reproach and contempt possible
    upon them. Then, he would have a ministry without the Spirit;
    - now, a Spirit without a ministry. Then, the reading of the
    word might suffice, without either preaching or praying by the
    Spirit, - now, the Spirit is enough, without reading or
    studying the word at all. Then, he allowed a literal embracing
    of what Christ had done in the flesh; - now, he talks of
    Christ in the Spirit only, and denies him to be come in the
    flesh, - the proper character of the false spirit we are
    warned of, 1 John 4:1. Now, because it is most certain that
    the Spirit which we are to hear and embrace is the Spirit
    promised by Christ (which is so clear, that him the
    Montanists' paraclete, yea, and Mohammed, pretended himself to
    be, and those of our days affirm, who pretend the same), let
    us briefly try them by some of the effects mentioned, which
    Christ has promised to give the Holy Ghost for: -  
        The first general effect, as was observed, was this, -
    that he should bring to remembrance the things that Christ
    spake, for our guidance and consolation. This was to he the
    work of the Holy Ghost towards the apostles, who were to be
    the penmen of the Scriptures: this is to be his work towards
    believers to the end of the world. Now, the things that Christ
    has spoken and done are "written that we might believe, and
    believing, halve life through his name," John 20: 31; they are
    written in the Scripture. This, then, is the work of the
    Spirit which Christ has promised; - he shall bring to our
    remembrance, and give us understanding of the words of Christ
    in the Scripture, for our guidance and consolation. Is this,
    now, the work of the spirit which is abroad in the world, and
    perverteth many? Nothing less. His business is, to decry the
    things that Christ has spoken which are written in the word;
    to pretend new revelations of his own; to lead men from the
    written word, wherein the whole work of God and all the
    promises of Christ are recorded.  
        Again: the work of the Spirit promised by Christ is to
    glorify him: "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of
    mine, and shall show it unto you," John 16: 14. Him who was to
    suffer at Jerusalem, who then spake to his disciples, it was
    to make him glorious, honourable, and of high esteem in the
    hearts of believers; and that by showing his things (his love,
    kindness, grace, and purchase) unto them. This is the work of
    the Spirit. The work of the spirit that is gone abroad, is to
    glorify itself, to decry and render contemptible Christ that
    suffered for us, under the name of a Christ without us; which
    it slights and despiseth, and that professedly. Its own glory,
    its own honour, is all that it aims at; wholly inverting the
    order of the divine dispensations. The fountain of all being
    and lying in the Father's love, the Son came to glorify the
    Father. He still says, "I seek not mine own glory, but the
    glory of him that sent me." The Son having carried on the work
    of redemption, was now to be glorified with the Father. So he
    prays that it might be, John 17: 1, "The hour is come, glorify
    thy Son;" and that with the glory which he had before the
    world was, when his joint counsel was in the carrying on the
    Father's love. Wherefore the Holy Ghost is sent, and his work
    is to glorify the Son. But now, as I said, we have a spirit
    come forth whose whole business is to glorify himself; whereby
    we may easily know whence he is.  
        Furthermore: the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the love of God
    in our hearts, as was declared, and thence fills them with
    joy, peace, and hope; quieting and refreshing the hearts of
    them in whom he dwells; giving them liberty and rest,
    confidence, and the boldness of children. This spirit whereof
    men now boast is a spirit of bondage, whose utmost work is to
    make men quake and tremble; casting them into an un-son-like
    frame of spirit, driving them up and down with horror and
    bondage, and drinking up their very natural spirits, and
    making their whole man wither away. There is scarce any one
    thing that more evidently manifesteth the spirit whereby some
    are now acted not to be the Comforter promised by Christ, than
    this, - that he is a spirit of bondage and slavery in them in
    whom he is, and a spirit of cruelty and reproach towards
    others; in a direct opposition to the Holy Ghost in believers,
    and all the ends and purposes for which, as a spirit of
    adoption and consolation, he is bestowed on them.  
        To give one instance more: the Holy Ghost bestowed on
    believers is a Spirit of prayer and supplication; as was
    manifested. The spirit wherewith we have to do, pretends the
    carrying men above such low and contemptible means of
    communion with God. In a word, it were a very easy and facile
    task, to pass through all of the eminent effects of the Holy
    Ghost in and towards believers, and to manifest that the
    pretending spirit of our days comes in a direct opposition and
    contradiction to every one of them. Thus has Satan passed from
    one extreme to another, - from a bitter, wretched opposition
    to the Spirit of Christ, unto a cursed pretending to the
    Spirit; still to the same end and purpose.  
        I might give sundry other instances of the contempt or
    abuse of the dispensation of the Spirit. Those mentioned are
    the extremes whereunto all other are or may be reduced; and I
    will not farther divert from that which lies directly in my

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 24...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-23.txt