(Owen. The Glory of Christ, Part 1. File 1)

(... continued from Introductory)

Meditations and Discourses on The Glory of Christ  
Chapter 1. The Explication of the Text.  
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me  
where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me:  
for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)  
 The high priest under the law, when he was to enter into the holy  
place on the solemn day of atonement, was to take both his hands  
full of sweet incense from the golden table of incense, to carry  
along with him in his entrance. He had also a censer filled with  
fire, that was taken from the altar of burnt-offerings, where  
atonement was made for sin with blood. Upon his actual entrance  
through the veil, he put the incense on the fire in the censer until  
the cloud of its smoke covered the ark, and the mercy seat. See Lev.  
16: 12,13. And the end hereof was to present unto God, in the behalf  
of the people, a sweet-smelling savour from the sacrifice of  
propitiation. See the declaration of these things in our exposition  
of Heb. 9.  
 In answer unto this mystical type, the great High Priest of the  
church, our Lord Jesus Christ, being to enter into the "holy place  
not made with hands," did, by the glorious prayer recorded in this  
chapter, influenced from the blood of his sacrifice, fill the  
heavens above, the glorious place of God's residence, with a cloud  
of incense, or the sweet perfume of his blessed intercession, typed  
by the incense offered by the high priest of old. By the same  
eternal fire wherewith he offered himself a bloody sacrifice to make  
atonement for sin, he kindled in his most holy soul those desires  
for the application of all its benefits unto his church which are  
here expressed, and wherein his intercession does consist.  
 It is only one passage in the verse above named that at present I  
design an inquiry into. And this is the subject-matter of what the  
Lord Christ here desires in the behalf of those given him by the  
 It is evident that in this prayer the Lord Christ has respect unto  
his own glory and the manifestation of it, which he had in the  
entrance asked of the Father, verses 4, 5. But in this place he has  
not so much respect unto it as his own, as unto the advantage,  
benefit, satisfaction, and blessedness of his disciples, in the  
beholding of it. For these things were the end of all that mediatory  
glory which was given unto him. So Joseph charged his brethren, when  
he had revealed himself unto them, that they should tell his father  
of all his "glory in Egypt," Gen. 45: 13. This he did, not for an  
ostentation of his own glory, but for the satisfaction which he knew  
his father would take in the knowledge of it. And such a  
manifestation of his glory unto his disciples does the Lord Christ  
here desire, as might fill them with blessed satisfaction for  
 This alone, which is here prayed for, will give them such  
satisfaction, and nothing else. The hearts of believers are like the  
needle touched by the loadstone, which cannot rest until it comes to  
the point whereunto, by the secret virtue of it, it is directed. For  
being once touched by the love of Christ, receiving therein an  
impression of secret ineffable virtue, they will ever be in motion,  
and restless, until they come unto him, and behold his glory. That  
soul which can be satisfied without it, - that cannot be eternally  
satisfied with it, - is not partaker of the efficacy of his  
 I shall lay the foundation of the ensuing Meditations in this one  
assertion, - namely, That one of the greatest privileges and  
advancements of believers, both in this world and unto eternity,  
consists in their BEHOLDING THE GLORY OF CHRIST. This, therefore, He  
desires for them in this solemn intercession, as the complement of  
all his other requests in their behalf; - "That they may behold my  
glory," - "Hina teooroosi", - that they may see, view, behold, or  
contemplate on my glory. The reasons why I assign not this glorious  
privilege only unto the heavenly state, which is principally  
respected in this place, but apply it unto the state of believers in  
this world also, with their duties and privileges therein, shall be  
immediately declared.  
 All unbelievers do in their heart call Christ "Ichabod," - "Where  
is the glory?" They see neither "form nor comeliness in him," that  
he should be desired. They look on him as Michal, Saul's daughter,  
did on David "dancing before the ark," when she despised him in her  
heart. They do not, indeed (many of them), "call Jesus anathema,"  
but cry, "Hail, Master!" and then crucify him.  
 Hence have we so many cursed opinions advanced in derogation unto  
his glory, - some of them really destructive of all that is truly  
so; yea, denying the "only Lord that bought us," and substituting a  
false Christ in his room. And others there are who express their  
slight thoughts of him and his glory by bold, irreverent inquiries,  
of what use his Person is in our religion; as though there were  
anything in our religion that has either reality, substance, or  
truth, but by virtue of its relation thereunto. And, by their  
answers, they bring their own inquiries yet nearer unto the borders  
of blasphemy.  
 Never was there an age since the name of Christians was known upon  
the earth, wherein there was such a direct opposition made unto the  
Person and glory of Christ, as there is in that wherein we live.  
There were, indeed, in the first times of the church, sums of proud,  
doting, brain-sick persons, who vented many foolish imaginations  
about him, which issued at length in Arianism, in whose ruins they  
were buried. The gates of hell in them prevailed not against the  
rock on which the church is built. But as it was said of Caesar,  
"Solus accesit sobrius, ad perdendam rempublicam", - "He alone went  
soberly about the destruction of the commonwealth;" so we now have  
great numbers who oppose the Person and glory of Christ, under a  
pretence of sobriety of reason, as they vainly plead. Yea, the  
disbelief of the mysteries of the Trinity, and the incarnation of  
the Son of God, - the sole foundation of Christian religion, - is so  
diffused in the world, as that it has almost devoured the power and  
vitals of it. And not a few, who dare not yet express their minds,  
do give broad intimations of their intentions and good-will towards  
him, in making them the object of their scorn and reproach who  
desire to know nothing but him, and him crucified.  
 God, in his appointed time, will effectually vindicate his honour  
and glory from the vain attempts of men of corrupt minds against  
 In the meantime, it is the duty of all those who "love the Lord  
Jesus in sincerity," to give testimony in a peculiar manner unto his  
divine Person and glory, according unto their several capacities,  
because of the opposition that is made against them.  
 I have thought myself on many accounts obliged to cast my mite  
into this treasury. and I have chosen so to do, not in a way of  
controversy (which formerly I have engaged in), but so as, together  
with the vindication of the truth, to promote the strengthening of  
the faith of true believers, their edification in the knowledge of  
it; and to express the experience which they have, or may have, of  
the power and reality of these things  
 That which at present I design to demonstrate is, that the  
beholding of the glory of Christ is one of the greatest privileges  
and advancements that believers are capable of in this world, or  
that which is to come. It is that whereby they are first gradually  
conformed unto it, and then fixed in the eternal enjoyment of it.  
For here in this life, beholding his glory, they are changed or  
transformed into the likeness of it, 2 Cor. 3: 18; and hereafter  
they shall be "for ever like unto him," because they "shall see him  
as he is," 1 John 3: 1, 2. Hereon do our present comforts and future  
blessedness depend. This is the life and reward of our souls. "He  
that has seen him has seen the Father also," John 14: 9. For we  
discern the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God only in the  
face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. 4: 6.  
 There are, therefore, two ways or degrees of beholding the glory  
of Christ, which are constantly distinguished in the Scripture. The  
one is by faith, in this world, - which is "the evidence of things  
not seen;" the other is by sight, or immediate vision in eternity, 2  
Cor. 5: 7, "We walk by faith, and not by sight." We do so whilst we  
are in this world, "whilst we are present in the body, and absent  
from the Lord," verse 8. But we shall live and walk by sight  
hereafter. And it is the Lord Christ and his glory which are the  
immediate object both of this faith and sight. For we here "behold  
him darkly in a glass" (that is by faith); "but we shall see him  
face to face" (by immediate vision). "Now we know him in part, but  
then we shall know him as we are known," 1 Cor. 13: 12. What is the  
difference between these two ways of beholding the glory of Christ  
shall be afterward declared.  
 It is the second way - namely, by vision in the light of glory -  
that is principally included in that prayer of our blessed Saviour,  
that his disciples may be where he is, to behold his glory. But I  
shall not confine my inquiry thereunto; nor does our Lord Jesus  
exclude from his desire that sight of his glory which we have by  
faith in this world, but prays for the perfection of it in heaven.  
It is therefore the first way that, in the first place, I shall  
insist upon; and that for the reasons ensuing: -  
 1. No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight  
hereafter, who does not in some measure behold it by faith here in  
this world. Grace is a necessary preparation for glory, and faith  
for sight. Where the subject (the soul) is not previously seasoned  
with grace and faith, it is not capable of glory or vision. Nay,  
persons not disposed hereby unto it cannot desire it, whatever they  
pretend; they only deceive their own souls in supposing that so they  
do. Most men will say with confidence, living and dying, that they  
desire to be with Christ, and to behold his glory; but they can give  
no reason why they should desire any such thing, - only they think  
it somewhat that is better than to be in that evil condition which  
otherwise they must be cast into for ever, when they can be here no  
more. If a man pretend himself to be enamoured on, or greatly to  
desire, what he never saw, nor was ever represented unto him, he  
does but dote on his own imaginations. And the pretended desires of  
many to behold the glory of Christ in heaven, who have no view of it  
by faith whilst they are here in this world, are nothing but  
self-deceiving imaginations.  
 So do the Papists delude themselves. Their carnal affections are  
excited by their outward senses to delight in images of Christ, - in  
his sufferings, his resurrection, and glory above. Hereon they  
satisfy themselves that they behold the glory of Christ himself and  
that with love and great delight. But whereas there is not the least  
true representation made of the Lord Christ or his glory in these  
things, - that being confined absolutely unto the gospel alone, and  
this way of attempting it being laid under a severe interdict, -  
they do but sport themselves with their own deceivings.  
 The apostle tells us concerning himself and other believers, when  
the Lord Christ was present and conversed with them in the days of  
his flesh, that they "saw his glory, the glory as of the  
only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," John 1: 14.  
And we may inquire, what was this glory of Christ which they so saw,  
and by what means they obtained a prospect of it. For, - l. It was  
not the glory of his outward condition, as we behold the glory and  
grandeur of the kings and potentates of the earth; for he made  
himself of no reputation, but being in the form of a servant, he  
walked in the condition of a man of low degree. The secular grandeur  
of his pretended Vicar makes no representation of that glory of his  
which his disciples saw. He kept no court, nor house of  
entertainment, nor (though he made all things) had of his own where  
to lay his head. Nor, - 2. Was it with respect to the outward form  
of the flesh which he was made, wherein he took our nature on him,  
as we see the glory of a comely or beautiful person; - for he had  
therein neither form nor comeliness that he should be desired, "his  
visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the  
sons of men," Isa. 52: 14; 53: 2, 3. All things appeared in him as  
became "a man of sorrows." Nor, - 3. Was it absolutely the eternal  
essential glory of his divine nature that is intended; for this no  
man can see in this world. What we shall attain in a view thereof  
hereafter we know not. But, - 4. It was his glory, as he was "full  
of grace and truth." They saw the glory of his person and his office  
in the administration of grace and truth. And how or by what means  
did they see this glory of Christ? It was by faith, and no  
otherwise; for this privilege was granted unto them only who  
"received him," and believed on his name, John 1: 12. This was that  
glory which the Baptist saw, when, upon his coming unto him he said  
unto all that were presents "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh  
away the sin of the world!" verses 29-33.  
 Wherefore let no man deceive himself; he that has no sight of the  
glory of Christ here, shall never have any of it hereafter unto his  
advantage. It is not, therefore, unto edification to discourse of  
beholding the glory of Christ in heaven by vision, until we go  
through a trial whether we see anything of it in this world by faith  
or no.  
 2. The beholding of Christ in glory is that which in itself is too  
high, illustrious, and marvellous for us in our present condition.  
It has a splendour and glory too great for our present spiritual  
visible faculty; as the direct, immediate sight of the sun darkens  
our sight, and does not relieve or strengthen it at all. Wherefore  
we have no way to take into our minds any true spiritual  
apprehensions of the nature of immediate vision, or what it is to  
see the glory of Christ in heaven, but by that view which we have by  
faith in this life of the same glory. Whatever otherwise falls into  
our minds is but conjecture and imagination; such as are the  
contemplations of most about heavenly things.  
 I have seen and read somewhat of the writings of learned men  
concerning the state of future glory; some of them are filled with  
excellent notions of truth, and elegance of speech, whereby they  
cannot but much affect the minds of them who duly consider what they  
say. But I know not well whence it comes to pass, many complain  
that, in reading of such discourses, they are like a man who  
"beholds his natural face in a glass, and immediately forgets what  
manner of man he was;" as one of old complained to the same purpose  
upon his perusal of Plato's contemplations about the immortality of  
the soul. The things spoken do not abide nor incorporate with our  
minds. They please and refresh for a little while, like a shower of  
rain in a dry season, that soaketh not unto the roots of things; the  
power of them does not enter into us. Is it not all from hence, that  
their notions of future things are not educed out of the experience  
which we have of the beginnings of them in this world? Without which  
they can make no permanent abode in our minds, nor continue any  
influence upon our affections. Yea, the soul is disturbed, not  
edified, in all contemplations of future glory, when things are  
proposed unto it whereof in this life it has neither foretaste,  
sense, experience, nor evidence. No man ought to look for anything  
in heaven, but what one way or other he has some experience of in  
this life. If men were fully persuaded hereof, they would be, it may  
be, more in the exercise of faith and love about heavenly things  
than for the most part they are. At present they know not what they  
enjoy, and they look for they know not what.  
 Hence is it that men, utterly strangers unto all experience of the  
beginning of glory in themselves as an effect of faith, have filled  
their divine worship with images, pictures, and music, to represent  
unto themselves somewhat of that glory which they fancy to be above.  
For into that which is truly so, they have no prospect, or can have;  
because they have no experience of its power in themselves, nor do  
they taste of its goodness by any of its first-fruits in their own  
minds. Wherefore by that view alone, and not otherwise, which we  
have of the glory of Christ by faith here in this world, we may  
attain such blessed conceptions of our beholding his glory above by  
immediate vision, as shall draw out our hearts unto the admiration  
of it and desires of its full enjoyment.  
 3. Herein, then, our present edification is principally concerned;  
for in this present beholding of she glory of Christ, the life and  
power of faith are most eminently acted. And from this exercise of  
faith does love unto Christ principally, if not solely, arise and  
spring. If, therefore, we desire to have faith in its vigour or love  
in its power, giving rest, complacency, and satisfaction unto our  
own souls, we are to seek for them in the diligent discharge of this  
duty; - elsewhere they will not be found. Herein would I live; -  
herein would I die; - hereon would I dwell in my thoughts and  
affections, to the withering and consumption of all the painted  
beauties of this world, unto the crucifying all things here below,  
until they become unto me a dead and deformed thing, no way meet for  
affectionate embraces.  
 For these and the like reasons I shall first inquire into our  
beholding of the glory of Christ in this world by faith; and therein  
endeavour to lead the souls of them that believe into the more  
retired walks of faith, love, and holy meditation, "whereby the King  
is held in the galleries," Cant. 7: 5.  
 But because there is no benefit in, nor advantage by, the  
contemplation of this sacred truth, but what consists in an  
improvement of the practice of the duty declared in it, - namely,  
the constant beholding of the glory of Christ by faith, - I shalt  
for the promotion of it, premise some few advantages which we may  
have thereby.  
 1. We shall hereby be made fit and meet for heaven. Every man is  
not so who desires it, and hopes for it; for some are not only  
unworthy of it, and excluded from it, by reason of sin, but they are  
unmet for it, and incapable of any advantage by it. All men, indeed,  
think themselves fit enough for glory (what should hinder them?) if  
they could attain it; but it is because they know not what it is.  
Men shall not be clothed with glory, as it were, whether they will  
or no. It is to be received in that exercise of the faculties of  
their souls which such persons have no ability for. Music has no  
pleasure in it unto them that cannot hear; nor the most beautiful  
colours, unto them that cannot see. It would be no benefit unto a  
fish, to take him from the bottom of the ocean, filled with cold and  
darkness, and to place him under the beams of the sun; for he is no  
way meet to receive any refreshment thereby. Heaven itself would not  
be more advantageous unto persons not renewed by the Spirit of grace  
in this life.  
 Hence the apostle gives "thanks unto the Father, who has made us  
meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," Col  
1: 12. Indeed, the beginning here, and the fulness of glory  
hereafter, are communicated unto believers, by an almighty act of  
the will and grace of God. But yet he has ordained ways, and meant,  
whereby they may be made meet receptive subjects of the glory so to  
be communicated unto them. That this way and means is by the  
beholding of the glory of Christ by faith shall be fully declared in  
our progress. This, therefore, should excite us unto this duty; for  
all our present glory consists, in our preparation for future glory.  
 2. No man can by faith take a real view of this glory, but virtue  
will proceed from it in a transforming power to change him "into the  
same image," 2 Cor. 3: 18. How this is done, and how we become like  
unto artist by beholding his glory, shall be fully declared in our  
 3. The constant contemplation of the glory of Christ will give  
rest, satisfaction, and complacency unto the souls of them who are  
exercised therein. Our minds are apt to be filled with a multitude  
of perplexed thoughts; - fears, cares, dangers, distresses,  
passions, and lusts, do make various impressions on the minds of  
men, filling them with disorder, darkness, and confusion. But where  
the soul is fixed in its thoughts and contemplations on this  
glorious object, it will be brought into and kept in a holy, serene,  
spiritual frame. For "to be spiritually-minded is life and peace."  
And this it does by taking off our hearts from all undue regard unto  
all things below, in comparison of the great worth, beauty, and  
glory of what we are conversant withal. See Phil. 3: 7-11. A defect  
herein makes many of us strangers unto a heavenly life, and to live  
beneath the spiritual refreshments and satisfactions that the gospel  
does tender unto us.  
 4. The sight of the glory of Christ is the spring and cause of our  
everlasting blessedness. "We shall ever be with the Lord," 1 Thess.  
4: 17, or "be with Christ, which is best of all, Phil. 1: 23. For  
there shall we "behold his glory," John 17: 24; and by "seeing him  
as he is, we shall be made like him," 1 John 3: 2; - which is our  
everlasting blessedness.  
 The enjoyment of God by sight is commonly called the BEATIFICAL  
VISION; and it is the sole fountain of all the actings of our souls  
in the state of blessedness: which the old philosophers knew nothing  
of; neither do we know distinctly what they are, or what is this  
sight of God. Howbeit, this we know, that God in his immense essence  
is invisible unto our corporeal eyes, and will be so to eternity; as  
also incomprehensible unto our minds. For nothing can perfectly  
comprehend that which is infinite, but what is itself infinite.  
Wherefore the blessed and blessing sight which we shall have of God  
will be always "in the face of Jesus Christ." Therein will that  
manifestation of the glory of God, in his infinite perfections, and  
all their blessed operations, so shine into our souls, as shall  
immediately fill us with peace, rest, and glory.  
 These things we here admire, but cannot comprehend. We know not  
well what we say when we speak of them: yet is there in true  
believers a foresight and foretaste of this glorious condition.  
There enters sometimes, by the Word and Spirit, into their hearts  
such a sense of the untreated glory of God, shining forth in Christ,  
as affects and satiates their souls with ineffable joy. Hence  
ariseth that "peace of God which passeth all understanding," keeping  
"our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ," Phil. 4: 7. "Christ,"  
in believers, "The hope of glory," gives them to taste of the first-  
fruits of it; yea, sometimes to bathe their souls in the fountain of  
life, and to drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at his right  
hand. Where any are utterly unacquainted with these things, they are  
carnal, yes, blind, and see nothing afar off. These enjoyments,  
indeed, are rare, and for the most part of short continuance. "Rara  
hora, brevis mora." But it is from our own sloth and darkness that  
we do not enjoy more visits of this grace, and that the dawnings of  
glory do not more shine on our souls. Such things as these may  
excite us to diligence in the duty proposed unto us.  
 And I shall inquire, - 1. What is that glory of Christ which we do  
or may behold by faith? 2. How do we behold it? 3. Wherein our doing  
so differs from immediate vision in heaven? And in the whole we  
shall endeavour an answer unto the inquiry made unto the spouse, by  
the daughters of Jerusalem, Cant. 5: 9, "What is thy beloved more  
than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? What is thy  
beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?"  

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file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owgch-01.txt