Owen, Of Communion With God, File 24
    (... continued from File 23)

    Chapter 6. Of particular communion with the Holy Ghost - Of  
               preparation thereunto - Valuation of the benefits  
               we receive by him - What it is he comforts, us,  
               in and against; wherewith; how. 
        The way being thus made plain for us, I come to show how
    we hold particular communion with the Holy Ghost, as he is
    promised of Christ to be our comforter, and as working out our
    consolation by the means formerly insisted on. Now, the first
    thing I shall do herein, is the proposal of that which may be
    some preparation to the duty under consideration; and this by
    leading the souls of believers to a due valuation of this work
    of his towards us, whence he is called our Comforter.  
        To raise up our hearts to this frame, and fit us for the
    duty intended, let us consider these three things: -  
        FIRST, What it is he comforts us against.  
        SECONDLY, Wherewith he comforts us.  
        THIRDLY, The principle of all his acting and operations in
    us for our consolation.  
        FIRST. There are but three things in the whole course of
    our pilgrimage that the consolations of the Holy Ghost are
    useful and necessary in: -  
        1. In our afflictions. Affliction is part of the provision
    that God has made in his house for his children, Heb. 12: 5,
    6. The great variety of its causes, means, uses, and effects,
    is generally known. There is a measure of them appointed for
    every one. To be wholly without them is a temptation; and so
    in some measure an affliction. That which I am to speak unto
    is, that in all our afflictions we need the consolations of
    the Holy Ghost. It is the nature of man to relieve himself,
    when he is entangled, by all ways and means. According as
    men's natural spirits are, so do they manage themselves under
    pressures. "The spirit of a man will bear his infirmity;" at
    least, will struggle with it.  
        There are two great evils, one of which does generally
    seize on men under their afflictions, and keep them from a due
    management of them. The apostle mentioneth them both, Heb. 12:
    5, "Me oligorei paideias Kuriou, mede ekluou, hup' autou
    elengchomenos", - Despise not the chastisement of the Lord;
    neither faint when thou art reproved." One of these extremes
    do men usually fall into; either they despise the Lord's
    correction, or sink under it.  
        (1.) Men despise it. They account that which befalls them
    to be a light or common thing; they take no notice of God in
    it; they can shift with it well enough: they look on
    instruments, second causes; provide for their own defence and
    vindication with little regard to God or his hand in their
    affliction. And the ground of this is, because they take in
    succours, in their trouble, that God will not mix his grace
    withal; they fix on other remedies than what he has appointed,
    and utterly lose all the benefits and advantage of their
    affliction. And so shall every man do that relieves himself
    from any thing but the consolations of the Holy Ghost.  
        (2.) Men faint and sink under their trials and
    afflictions; which the apostle farther reproves, verse 12. The
    first despise the assistance of the Holy Ghost through pride
    of heart; the latter refuse it through dejectedness of spirit,
    and sink under the weight of their troubles. And who, almost,
    is there that offends not on one of these hands? Had we not
    learned to count light of the chastisements of the Lord, and
    to take little notice of his dealings with us, we should find
    the season of our afflictions to comprise no small portion of
    our pilgrimage.  
        Now, there is no due management of our souls under any
    affliction, so that God may have the glory of it, and
    ourselves any spiritual benefit or improvement thereby, but by
    the consolations of the Holy Ghost. All that our Saviour
    promiseth his disciples, when he tells them of the great
    trials and tribulations they were to undergo, is, "I will send
    you the Spirit, the Comforter; he shall give you peace in me,
    when in the world you shall have trouble. He shall guide and
    direct, and keep you in all your trials". And so, the apostle
    tells us, it came to pass, 2 Cor. 1: 4-6; yea, and this, under
    the greatest afflictions, will carry the soul to the highest
    joy, peace, rest, and contentment. So the same apostle, Rom.
    5: 3, "We glory in tribulations". It is a great expression. He
    had said before, "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God,"
    verse 2. Yea, but what if manifold afflictions and
    tribulations befall us? "Why, even in them also we glory,"
    saith he; "we glory in our tribulations." But whence is it
    that our spirits are so borne up to a due management of
    afflictions, as to glory in them in the Lord? He tells us,
    verse 5, it is from the "shedding abroad of the love of God in
    our hearts by the Holy Ghost." And thence are believers said
    to "receive the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy
    Ghost," l Thess. 1: 6; and to "take joyfully the spoiling of
    their goods". This is that I aim at: - there is no management
    nor improvement of any affliction, but merely and solely by
    the consolations of the Holy Ghost. Is it, then, of any esteem
    or value unto you that you lose not all your trials,
    temptations, and affliction? - learn to value that whereby
    alone they are rendered useful.  
        2. Sin is the second burden of our lives, and much the
    greatest. Unto this is this consolation peculiarly suited. So
    Heb. 6: 17, 18, an allusion is taken from the manslayer under
    the law, who, having killed a man unawares, and brought the
    guilt of his blood upon himself, fled with speed for his
    deliverance to the city of refuge. Our great and only refuge
    from the guilt of sin is the Lord Jesus Christ; in our flying
    to him, does the Spirit administer consolation to us. A sense
    of sin fills the heart with troubles and disquietness; it is
    the Holy Ghost which gives us peace in Christ, - that gives an
    apprehension of wrath; the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the love of
    God in our hearts; - from thence does Satan and the law accuse
    us, as objects of God's hatred; the Spirit bears witness with
    our spirits that we are the children of God. There is not any
    one engine or instrument that sin useth or sets up against our
    peace, but one effect or other of the Holy Ghost towards us is
    suited and fitted to the casting of it down.  
        3. In the whole course of our obedience are his
    consolations necessary also, that we may go through with it
    cheerfully, willingly, patiently to the end. This will
    afterward be more fully discovered, as to particulars, when I
    come to give directions for our communion with this blessed
    Comforter. In a word, in all the concernments of this life,
    and in our whole expectation of another, we stand in need of
    the consolations of the Holy Ghost.  
        Without them, we shall either despise afflictions or faint
    under them, and God be neglected as to his intendments in
        Without them, sin will either harden us to a contempt of
    it, or cast us down to a neglect of the remedies graciously
    provided against it.  
        Without them, duties will either puff us up with pride, or
    leave us without that sweetness which is in new obedience.  
        Without them, prosperity will make us carnal, sensual, and
    to take up our contentment in these things, and utterly weaken
    us for the trials of adversity.  
        Without them, the comforts of our relations will separate
    us from God, and the loss of them make our hearts as Nabal's. 
        Without them, the calamity of the church will overwhelm
    us, and the prosperity of the church will not concern us.  
        Without them, we shall have wisdom, for no work, peace in
    no condition, strength for no duty, success in no trial, joy
    in no state, - no comfort in life, no light in death.  
        Now, our afflictions, our sins, and our obedience, with
    the attendancies of them respectively, are the great
    concernments of our lives. What we are in reference unto God
    is comprised in them, and the due management of them, with
    their contraries, which come under the same rule; through all
    these does there run a line of consolation from the Holy
    Ghost, that gives us a joyful issue throughout. How sad is the
    condition of poor souls destitute of these consolations. What
    poor shifts are they forced to retake themselves unto! what
    giants have they to encounter in their own strength! and
    whether they are conquered or seem to conquer, they have
    nothing but the misery of their trials!  
        The SECOND thing considerable, to teach us to put a due
    valuation on the consolations of the Holy Ghost, is the matter
    of them, or that wherewith he comforts us. Now, this may be
    referred to the two heads that I have formerly treated of, -
    the love of the Father, and the grace of the Son. All the
    consolations of the Holy ghost consist in his acquainting us
    with, and communicating unto us, the love of the Father and
    the grace of the Son; nor is there any thing in the one or the
    other but he makes it a matter of consolation to us: so that,
    indeed, we have our communion with the Father in his love, and
    the Son in his grace, by the operation of the Holy Ghost.  
        1. He communicates to us, and acquaints us with, the love
    of the Father. Having informed his disciples with that ground
    and foundation of their consolation which by the Comforter
    they should receive, our blessed Saviour (John 16: 27) shuts
    up all in this, "The father himself loveth you." This is that
    which the Comforter is given to acquaint us withal, - even
    that God is the Father, and that he loves us. In particular,
    that the Father, the first person in the Trinity, considered
    so distinctly, loves us. On this account is he said so often
    to come forth from the Father, because he comes in pursuit of
    his love, and to acquaint the hearts of believers therewith,
    that they may be comforted and established. By persuading us
    of the eternal and unchangeable love of the Father, he fills
    us with consolation. And, indeed, all the effects of the Holy
    Ghost before mentioned have their tendency this way. Of this
    love and its transcendent excellency you heard at large
    before. Whatever is desirable in it is thus communicated to us
    by the Holy Ghost. A sense of this is able not only to relieve
    us, but to make us in every condition to rejoice with joy
    unspeakable and glorious. It is not with an increase of corn,
    and wine, and oil, but with the shining of the countenance of
    God upon us, that he comforts our souls, Ps. 4: 6, 7. "The
    world hateth me," may such a soul as has the Spirit say; "but
    my Father loves me. Men despise me as a hypocrite; but my
    Father loves me as a child. I am poor in this world; but I
    have a rich inheritance in the love of my Father. I am
    straitened in all things; but there is bread enough in my
    Father's house. I mourn in secret under the power of my lusts
    and sin, where no eyes see me; but the Father sees me, and is
    full of compassion. With a sense of his kindness, which is
    better than life, I rejoice in tribulation, glory in
    affliction, triumph as a conqueror. Though I am killed all the
    day long, all my sorrows have a bottom that may be fathomed, -
    my trials, bounds that may be compassed; but the breadth, and
    depth, and height of the love of the Father, who can express?"
    I might render glorious this way of the Spirit's comforting us
    with the love of the Father, by comparing it with all other
    causes and means of joy and consolation whatever; and so
    discover their emptiness, its fulness, - their nothingness,
    its being all; as also by revealing the properties of it
    before rehearsed.  
        2. Again: he does it by communicating to us, and
    acquainting us with, the grace of Christ, - all the fruits of
    his purchase, all the desirableness of his person, as we are
    interested in him. The grace of Christ, as I formerly
    discoursed of at large, is referred to two heads, - the grace
    of his person, and of his office and work. By both them does
    the Holy Ghost administer consolation to us, John 16: 14. He
    glorifies Christ by revealing his excellencies and
    desirableness to believers, as the "chiefest of ten thousand,
    - altogether lovely," and then he shows them of the things of
    Christ, - his love, grace, all the fruits of his death,
    suffering, resurrection, and intercession: and with these
    supports their hearts and souls. And here, whatever is of
    refreshment in the pardon of sin, deliverance from the curse,
    and wrath to come, in justification and adoption, with the
    innumerable privileges attending them in the hope of glory
    given unto us, comes in on this head of account.  
        THIRDLY. The principle and fountain of all his acting for
    our consolation comes next under consideration, to the same
    end; and this leads us a little nearer to the communion
    intended to be directed in. Now, this is his own great love
    and infinite condescension. He willingly proceedeth or comes
    forth from the Father to be our comforter. He knew what we
    were, and what we could do, and what would be our dealings
    with him, - he knew we would grieve him, provoke him, quench
    his motions, defile his dwelling-place; and yet he would come
    to be our comforter. Want of a due consideration of this great
    love of the Holy Ghost weakens all the principles of our
    obedience. Did this dwell and abide upon our hearts, what a
    dear valuation must we needs put upon all his operations and
    acting towards us! Nothing, indeed, is valuable but what comes
    from love and good-will. This is the way the Scripture takes
    to raise up our hearts to a right and due estimation of our
    redemption by Jesus Christ. It tells us that he did it freely;
    that of his own will he has laid down his life; that he did it
    out of love. "In this was manifested the love of God, that he
    laid down his life for us;" "He loved us, and gave himself for
    us;" "He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own
    blood." Hereunto it adds our state and condition, considered
    as he undertook for us, - sinners, enemies, dead, alienated;
    then he loved us, and died for us, and washed us with his
    blood. May we not hence, also, have a valuation of the
    dispensation of the Spirit for our consolation? He proceeds to
    that end from the Father; he distributes as he will, works as
    he pleaseth. And what are we, towards whom he carrieth on this
    work? Froward, perverse, unthankful; grieving, vexing,
    provoking him. Yet in his love and tenderness does he continue
    to do us good. Let us by faith consider this love of the Holy
    Ghost. It is the head and source of all the communion we have
    with him in this life. This is, as I said, spoken only to
    prepare our hearts to the communion proposed; and what a
    little portion is it of what might be spoken! How might all
    these considerations be aggravated! what a numberless number
    might be added! It suffices that, from what is spoken, it
    appears that the work in hand is amongst the greatest duties
    and most excellent privileges of the gospel.

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 25...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-24.txt