Life of Dr Owen, by Rev. Andrew Thomson, B.A., Edinburgh 
1 His Student-Life 
2 His Pastorate 
3 His Vice-Chancellorship 
4 His Retirement and Last Days 
Appendix to the Life of Dr Owen 
  1. Epitaph on his Monument 
  2. Some letters 
  3. His Works 
1 His Student-Life 
It is matter of just regret and complaint that no elaborate contemporary 
memoir of this great Puritan was ever written. Twenty years after his 
death, Cotton Mather, in his "Magnalia Americana Christi," declared "that 
the church of God was wronged, in that the life of the great John Owen 
was not written;" and it was only when twenty years more had elapsed that 
a life of Owen at length appeared, from the pen of Mr Asty, a respectable 
Independent minister in London; which, though written under the eye of 
Sir John Hartopp, a particular friend of Owen, and for many years a 
member of his church, is chargeable with numerous inaccuracies, and so 
scanty withal, as "not to contain so many pages as Owen has written 
books." In addition to this, an equally brief anonymous memoir has fallen 
into our hands, professing to have been written by one who "had the 
honour to know this eminent person well, and to hear him frequently; 
though he must confess that he had not then years and experience enough 
to conceive a suitable idea of the Doctor's great worth." But the student 
who should wish to search for voluminous contemporary records and early 
reminiscences of Owen, will look in vain for such full and accurate 
memorials as Dr Edmund Calamy has given us of Howe; for such an 
inexhaustible storehouse of incident, and almost redundance of mental 
portraiture, as Richard Baxter has given us of himself. The sources from 
which the modern biographer must draw his notices of Owen, besides those 
already named, are to some extent the representations of adversaries, who 
could not be silent on so great a name, or withhold reluctant praise; the 
not infrequent allusions to Owen in the lives of his contemporaries; the 
statements of general history and biography,--such as are to be found in 
the page of Neal, Calamy, Middleton, Palmer, and others; and, perhaps the 
most valuable and interesting of all, the many unconscious touches of 
autobiography which may be found in his prefaces to his various works. Of 
all of these Mr Orme has made excellent use in his Life of Owen; which is 
a remarkable specimen of untiring research, solid judgment and ability in 
the disposal of his materials, and, making some allowance for honest 
bias, of biographical fidelity: and from all of these, and especially 
from Mr Orme himself, we shall gather the details of our biographical 
sketch and estimate of Owen. 
  The genealogy of the subject of our memoir leads us back to a family of 
high rank and reputation in Wales, whose remoter links connect it with 
the five regal tribes. In the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Queen 
Mary, we meet with the name of Lewis Owen as Vice-chamberlain and Baron 
of the Exchequer in North Wales, and High Sheriff of the county of 
Merioneth; as honoured by correspondence with those monarchs in reference 
to the affairs of Wales and as going forth on a commission to clear the 
country of those felons and outlaws who had sought refuge in great 
numbers among its mountains, during the turbulence and relaxed authority 
that had arisen from the long wars between the houses of York and 
Lancaster. At a later period this honoured ancestor fell a sacrifice to 
his fidelity as a magistrate; for, on his return from the assizes in 
Montgomeryshire, he fell into the hands of a band of outlaws, who had 
taken a vow of revenge against him on account of the capture of their 
companions, and, deserted by all but one faithful friend, was murdered by 
them in the woods of Monthrey. 
  Humphrey Owen, a branch of this same family, married Susan, a 
granddaughter of Lewis Owen; and to him there were born in succession 
fifteen sons, the youngest of whom was Henry Owen. Henry was dedicated by 
his parents to office in the church, and having received an education, in 
language, philosophy, and divinity, at Oxford, in the course of time 
became vicar of Stadham, in Oxfordshire. Here he proved himself so 
"painful a labourer in the vineyard of the Lord," and so uncompromising 
an advocate for reformation in the church, as to receive testimony to his 
fidelity in the jealousy and displeasure of the dominant ecclesiastical 
powers, and to be branded with the name of "Puritan." To this worthy 
vicar there was born, at Stadham, in the year 1616, a second son, John 
Owen, the subject of this memoir, who was destined to shed a new renown 
on their ancient house, and to eclipse, by the more substantial glory of 
his virtues, learning, and genius, the dim lustre of their regal lineage. 
  Little is known regarding the childhood of Owen; and no records 
whatever have descended to tell us of the mother to whom was committed 
the training of his most susceptible years, and who was to be the Monnica 
to this future Augustine. There is reason to think that he received the 
elements of a common education from the good vicar himself, under the 
domestic roof at Stadham; while, after a few years of home education, he 
was transferred to a private academy at Oxford, where he entered on his 
classical studies under the superintendence of Edward Sylvester, a tutor 
of eminence, several of whose pupils rose to the highest distinction, and 
even won for themselves at no distant date an undying fame. A comparison 
of dates makes it unlikely that the two were playmates; but it is 
interesting to notice, that the same quiet institution, in the parish of 
All-Saints, which now received within its walls the future great 
theologian of the Puritans, was also the place in which was initiated 
into the Greek and Roman tongues the immortal Chilling worth,--of whose 
great work, "The Religion of Protestants," it is not too much to say, 
that it is sufficient to shed honour, not on a university merely, but on 
an age. One fact will suffice to show the energy with which the young 
pupil applied himself to his studies, as well as the unusually early 
development of his faculties, that, at the age of twelve, he was found to 
have outgrown the instructions of Sylvester and to be ripe for the 
university. He was, accordingly, entered a student at Queen's College at 
this age, which, in the case of most youths, would have been most 
injudiciously premature, and, even at this period, must have seemed 
strangely early; for, in looking into the lives of some of the most 
eminent of his contemporaries, we meet with no instance of similar 
precocity. Bishop Hall, for example, enrolled himself at Cambridge at 
fifteen, while his great Puritan contemporary, John Howe, did not enter 
Oxford until he had reached the riper age of seventeen. 
  Few men of great eminence appear to have occupied the chairs of the 
university at this period; but Owen was fortunate enough to have his 
studies in mathematics and philosophy superintended by a tutor of solid 
attainments and subsequent high distinction,--Thomas Barlow, then a 
fellow of Queen's College, afterwards its provost, and who, in course of 
time, was elevated to the see of Lincoln. The boy-student devoted himself 
to the various branches of learning with an intensity that would have 
unhinged most minds, and broken in pieces any bodily constitution except 
the most robust. For several years of his university curriculum he 
allowed himself only four hours of the night for sleep, though he had the 
wisdom so far to counteract the injurious influence of sedentary habits 
and excessive mental toil, by having recourse to bodily recreation in 
some of its most robust and even violent forms. Leaping, throwing the 
bar, bell-ringing, and similar amusements, occasionally allured him from 
his books; and it may perhaps surprise some, who conceive of the men of 
that age as unsocial and unfriendly to all the lighter graces and 
accomplishments, to learn that Owen received lessons in music from Dr 
Thomas Wilson, a celebrated performer on the flute, and the favourite 
preceptor in the same elegant and delightful art of Charles I. It may 
perhaps have been from grateful recollections of these youthful and 
fascinating exercises, in which the student had been accustomed to unbend 
from too protracted and severe studies, that Owen at a future period, 
when elevated to the vice-chancellorship of Oxford, appointed his early 
tutor professor of music in the university. 
  Still, the hours which are taken from needful rest are not redeemed, 
but borrowed, and must be paid back with double interest in future life; 
and Owen, when he began to feel his iron frame required to pay the 
penalty of his youthful enthusiasm, was accustomed to declare that he 
would willingly part with all the learning he had accumulated by such 
means, if he might but recover the health which he had lost in the 
gaining of it. And he was wont to confess with a far profounder sorrow, 
not unmixed with shame, that no holy oil at this time fed his midnight 
lamp; but that the great motive which had borne him up, during those days 
and nights of consuming toil, was an ambition to rise to distinction and 
power in the church. We can well believe that the severity of this 
self-condemnation would, by a judge more tender than himself, have so far 
been mitigated by the knowledge of another motive, which must have had 
considerable influence upon his mind, arising from the fact that his 
father had been unable to render him any adequate pecuniary assistance, 
and that he had hitherto been indebted for his support to the liberality 
of an uncle in Wales. But still, when more amiable motives have been 
allowed their full force, a mere earthly ambition must be acknowledged to 
have been the mainspring of all his past efforts; and we cannot doubt 
that, when he returned to the university at a future period, these 
condemnatory reminiscences arose strongly in his mind, and that, like 
Philip Henry in similar circumstances, while thanking God that his course 
had been unstained by vices, he could insert in his book, "A tear dropped 
over my university sins." 
  And here let us pause for a moment, to look at the circumstances of 
another student, who was destined at a future day to shine with Owen in 
the same bright constellation. While Owen was walking amid the majestic 
structures and academic shades of Oxford, or bending over the midnight 
page, Richard Baxter might have been seen amid the enchanting scenery of 
Ludlow Castle, or, later still, in the small village of Wroxeter, with 
little help or guidance from man, but, under the promptings of an 
indomitable will, and with an omnivorous appetite for knowledge, allowing 
no difficulties or discouragements to damp the ardour of his pursuits. 
Without the advantage of the systematic training of a university, or the 
command of the rich stores of its libraries, this was almost compensated 
to his athletic soul by the more discursive and varied range which both 
his tastes and his necessities thus gave to his studies. In the writings 
of Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, and Duns Scotus, which to most minds would 
have been dry and barren as the sands of the desert, his acute intellect 
found high exercise and real delight, and rejoiced in whetting and 
exercising on them its dialectic powers, until he could rival in subtle 
and shadowy distinctions those ghostly schoolmen. Two years the senior of 
Owen, he was also "in Christ" before him; and while the Oxford student 
was still feeding the fires of an earth-born ambition, Baxter had learned 
from Sibbs' Bruised Reed, and from his Bible, the art of holy meditation; 
and, even in the later years of his student-life, might have been seen at 
that hour when it was too dark to read and too early to light his lamp, 
devoting its sacred moments to thinking of heaven and anticipations of 
the "saints' everlasting rest." But the same grace was soon to descend 
upon the soul of Owen, and, cooperating with providential occurrences, to 
withdraw him forever from the poor daydreams of a mere earthly ambition. 
While he was measuring out for himself a course which, if successful, 
would probably have made him a secular churchman, and even an intolerant 
persecutor, Christ had said of him, "I will show him how great things he 
must suffer for my name's sake." Let us now trace the influences and 
events which brought about in the mind and outward circumstances of Owen 
this mighty change. 
  We have no minute information regarding the means by which his mind was 
first turned with serious personal interest to the supreme subject of 
religion. Perhaps the dormant seeds of early instruction that had been 
lodged in his mind under the roof of the humble vicarage now began to 
live; perhaps some of those truths which he was storing in his mind as 
matter of mere intellectual furniture and accomplishment had unexpectedly 
reached his heart; or the earnest struggles on religious questions that 
were beginning to agitate the kingdom had, in some measure, arrested the 
sympathy of the young recluse; or thoughts of a more serious kind than he 
had yet entertained had arisen in his mind, he knew not how, like 
invisible and life-awakening spring-breezes; or all these things combined 
may have been employed as influences in bringing him at length to "seek 
first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness." At all events, we have 
Owen's own testimony to the fact, that in the later years of his 
university life, the Divine Spirit began to work in his soul a new class 
of thoughts and emotions; and though it was not until a later period that 
he entered upon the full peace and holy liberty of the kingdom of God, he 
was brought even then to submit his life to the supreme control of 
religious principle, and to ask, " What wilt thou have me to do?" 
  While his mind was undergoing this great change, events were occurring 
in the government of the university which were fitted to put his 
religious principle to the test, and to try it, as it were, by fire. 
William Laud having, by a succession of rapid advancements, been raised 
to the chancellorship of Oxford, hastened to introduce into it those 
Romish innovations which, as the privy councillor and principal adviser 
of Charles, and the intimate associate of Strafford, he had already done 
much to infuse into the general ecclesiastical policy of the nation. The 
naturally arrogant and domineering spirit of this narrow-minded 
ecclesiastic, whom even Clarendon describes as "rough of temper, 
impatient of contradiction, and arbitrary," had far more to do with those 
oppressive measures which marked his fatal ecclesiastical supremacy, than 
those mistaken views of the rights of conscience which at this period 
dragged so many better and more amiable men into the ranks of 
persecutors. Accordingly, we find him requiring the adoption, by the 
university, of many of those rites and ceremonials which savoured the 
most strongly of Popish superstitions, and in some instances were 
identical with them, and which the Reformers of England had soonest 
renounced and most severely condemned; the penalty of resistance to this 
demand being nothing less than expulsion from the university. 
  This bold innovation at once dragged Owen from the privacy of his 
student-life into all the stern struggles of a public career. And his 
mind, delivered by the fear of God from every other fear, was not slow in 
resolving on resistance to the bigoted prelate's intolerant statutes. 
Many of the rites which Laud imposed were such as he in conscience 
believed to be divinely forbidden; and even things which, if left 
unimposed, might have been borne with as matters of indifference, when 
authoritatively enjoined as of equal obligation with divine appointment, 
he felt ought to be resisted as an invasion of the divine prerogative and 
the rights of conscience,--"a teaching for doctrines of the commandments 
of men." This was the ground that had been occupied by the Puritans from 
the days of Elizabeth, when Ridley and Latimer had "played the man in the 
fire;" and though we have no record of Owen's mental exercise at this 
period, yet, with the course that was actually taken by him before us, we 
cannot doubt that he now unconsciously felt his way to this first Puritan 
standing-point, and that the following passage, written by him long 
afterwards, expressed the principles which animated his mind and decided 
his movements:-- 
  "They [believers] will receive nothing, practise nothing, own nothing 
in His worship, but what is of His appointment. They know that from the 
foundation of the world he never did allow, nor ever will, that in any 
thing the will of the creatures should be the measure of his honour, or 
the principle of His worship, either as to matter or manner. It was a 
witty and true sense that one gave of the Second Commandment, 'Non image, 
non simulachrum prohibetur, sed, non facies tibi;'--it is a making to 
ourselves, an inventing, a finding out ways of worship, or means of 
honouring God, not by him appointed, that is so severely forbidden. 
Believers know what entertainment all will-worship finds with God. 'Who 
has required this at your hand?' and, 'In vain do ye worship me, teaching 
for doctrines the traditions of men,' is the best it meets with I shall 
take leave to say what is upon my heart, and what (the Lord assisting) I 
shall willing endeavour to make good against all the world,--namely, that 
that principle, that the church has power to institute and appoint any 
thing or ceremony belonging to the worship of God, either as to matter or 
to manner, beyond the orderly observance of such circumstances as 
necessarily attend such ordinances as Christ himself has instituted, lies 
at the bottom of all the horrible superstition and idolatry, of all the 
confusion, blood, persecution, and wars, that have for so long a season 
spread themselves over the face of the Christian world; and that it is 
the design of a great part of the Book of the Revelation to make a 
discovery of this truth. 
  "And I doubt not but that the great controversy which God has had with 
this nation for so many years, and which he has pursued with so much 
anger and indignation, was upon this account, that, contrary to the 
glorious light of the Gospel, which shone among us, the wills and fancies 
of men, under the name of order, decency, and authority of the church (a 
chimera that none knew what it was, not wherein the power did consist, 
nor in whom reside), were imposed on men in the ways and worship of God. 
Neither was all that pretence of glory, beauty, comeliness, and 
conformity, that then was pleaded, any thing more or less than what God 
does so describe in the Church of Israel, Ezek. 16: 25, and forward. 
Hence was the Spirit of God in prayer derided,--hence was the powerful 
preaching of the gospel despised,--hence was the Sabbath-day decried,-- 
hence was holiness stigmatized and persecuted. To what ends that Jesus 
Christ might be deposed from the sole power of lawmaking in his church,-- 
that the true husband might be thrust aside, and adulterers of his spouse 
embraced,--that taskmasters might be appointed in and over his house, 
which he never gave to his church, Eph. 4: 11,--that a ceremonious, 
pompous, outward show-worship, drawn from Pagan, Judaical, and 
Antichristian observances, might be introduced; of all which there is not 
one word, little, or iota in the whole book of God. This, then, they who 
hold communion with Christ are careful of,-- they will admit nothing, 
practice nothing, in the worship of God, private or public, but what they 
have his warrant for. Unless it comes in his name, with 'Thus saith the 
Lord Jesus,' they will not hear an angel from heaven." 
  While the well-informed conscience of Owen thus distinctly forbade 
conformity, every consideration of seeming worldly interest strongly 
pleaded for pliant acquiescence in the statutes of Laud. To abandon 
Oxford, was to dash from him at once all those fair prospects which had 
hitherto shone before him in his career as a student,--to shut against 
himself the door, not only of honorable preferment, but, as it probably 
at this time appeared to his mind, of Christian usefulness,--to incur the 
inevitable displeasure of that prelate, whose keen and sleepless efforts 
to search out all who were opposed to his policy had already subjected 
every corner of the realm to a vigilant and minute inspection, and whose 
cruel and malignant spirit was already finding desolating scope in the 
unconstitutional measures and atrocities of the Star Chamber and the High 
Commission. And even though these latter perils might seem to be remote 
as yet from his head, yet could he not be blind to the fact, that, by 
such a step, he might incur the implacable displeasure of his Royalist 
uncle in Wales, who had hitherto supplied him with the principal means of 
support at Oxford, and expressed his intention, in case of continued 
satisfaction with his conduct, of making him heir to his estates. Yet all 
these probable consequences of non-compliance Owen was willing to incur, 
rather than violate his sense of duty, "esteeming the reproach of Christ 
greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt;" and, at the age of 
twenty-one, might have been seen leaving behind him all the daydreams and 
cherished associations of more than ten youthful years, and passing 
through the gates of Oxford self-exiled for conscience' sake. God was now 
educating him in a higher school than that of Oxford, and subjecting him 
to that fiery discipline by which he tempers and fashions his most chosen 
instruments. But "there is no man that has left house, or parents, or 
brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, who shall 
not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come 
life everlasting." Ten years afterwards the banished student, who had 
thus nobly followed the light of conscience, lead where it might, was to 
be seen returning through those very gates to receive its highest 
honours,--to have intrusted to him the administration of its laws, and 
almost to occupy the very seat of power from which Laud had, in the 
interval, been ignominiously hurled. 
  Owen had "commenced master of arts" in his nineteenth year, and not 
long before leaving Oxford, had been admitted to orders by Bishop 
Bancroft. He now found a home unexpectedly opened to him in the house of 
Sir Philip Dormer of Ascot, who invited him to become chaplain to his 
family, and tutor to his eldest son; "in both which respects," says one 
of the oldest notices of Owen, "he acquitted himself with great 
satisfaction to Sir Robert and his family." After some time, he accepted 
the situation of chaplain in the family of Lord Lovelace of Hotly, in 
Berkshire, where he appears to have enjoyed much kindness, and to have 
been duly appreciated. But meanwhile the rent between Charles and his 
Parliament was widening apace. His frequent invasion of the 
constitutional rights of the other estates of the realm, his attempts to 
rule without a Parliament and to raise money by illegal means, his 
systematic violation of his most solemn pledges, his connivance at the 
innovating superstitions of Laud, and wanton violation of religious 
liberty, at length roused an impatient kingdom to resistance, drove the 
Parliament to the last resort of arms, and shook the land with the 
discord of civil war. At such a crisis it is impossible for any man to 
remain neutral, and it found Owen and his patron of opposite sentiments. 
Lord Lovelace took up sums on the side of Charles, and of royal 
prerogative; all the convictions and sympathies of Owen were naturally 
with the army of the Parliament, and the cause of public liberty. Two 
consequences immediately followed from this to Owen,--his leaving the 
family of Lord Lovelace, and the complete estrangement of his Royalist 
uncle in Wales, who now finally deherited him, and bestowed his estates 
and wealth upon another. 
  Leaving Berkshire, Owen now removed to London, and took up his 
residence in Charter-House Yard. Here he continued to suffer from that 
mental depression which had begun with his earliest religious anxieties 
at Oxford; and which, though partially relieved at intervals, had never 
yet been completely removed. Some influence is no doubt to be ascribed to 
the discouraging outward circumstances in which his uncle's conduct had 
placed him, in deepening the gloom of those shadows which now cast 
themselves across his spirit; but the chief spring of his distress lay 
deeper,--in his perplexities and anxieties about his state with God. For 
years he had been under the power of religious principle, but he had not 
yet been borne into the region of settled peace; and at times the terrors 
of the Lord seemed still to compass him about. We have no means of 
ascertaining with certainty what were the causes of these dreadful 
conflicts in Owen's mind; whether an overwhelming sense of the holiness 
and rectitude of God; or perverse speculations about the secret purposes 
of God, when he should have been reposing in his revealed truths and all 
embracing calls; or a self-righteous introversion of his thoughts upon 
himself, when he should have been standing in the full sun-light of the 
cross; or more mysterious deeps of anguish than any of these;--but we are 
disposed to think that his noble treatise on the "Forgiveness of Sin," 
written many years afterwards, is in a great degree the effect as well as 
the record of what he suffered now. Nothing is more certain than that 
some of the most precious treasures in our religious literature have thus 
come forth from the seven-times-heated furnace of mental suffering. The 
wondrous colloquies of Luther, in his "Introduction to the Galatians," 
reflect the conflicts of his own mighty spirit with unbelief; the 
"Pilgrim's Progress" is in no small degree the mental autobiography of 
Bunyan; and there is strong internal evidence that Owen's "Exposition of 
the 130th Psalm "which is as full of Christian experience as of rich 
theology, and contains some of the noblest passages that Owen ever 
penned--is to a great extent the unconscious transcript of his present 
wanderings, and perplexities, and final deliverances. 
  But the time had come when the burden was to fall from Owen's 
shoulders; and few things in his life are more truly interesting than the 
means by which it was unloosed. Dr Edmund Calamy was at this time 
minister in Aldermanbury Chapel, and attracted multitudes by his manly 
eloquence. Owen had gone one Sabbath morning to hear the celebrated 
Presbyterian preacher, and was much disappointed when he saw an unknown 
stranger from the country enter the pulpit. His companion suggested that 
they should leave the chapel, and hasten to the peace of worship of 
another celebrated preacher; but Owen's strength being already exhausted, 
he determined to remain. After a prayer of simple earnestness, the text 
was announced in these words of Matt.8:26, "Why are ye fearful, O ye of 
little faith?" Immediately it arrested the thoughts of Owen as 
appropriate to his present state of mind, and he breathed an inward 
prayer that God would be pleased by that minister to speak to his 
condition. The prayer was heard, for the preacher stated and answered the 
very doubts that had long perplexed Owen's mind; and by the time that the 
discourse was ended, had succeeded in leading him forth into the sunshine 
of a settled peace. The most diligent efforts were used by Owen to 
discover the name of the preacher who had thus been to him "as an angel 
of God," but without success. 
  There is a marked divine selection visible in the humble instrument 
that was thus employed to bring peace to Owen's mind. We trace in it the 
same wisdom that sent a humble Ananias to remove the scales from the eyes 
of Saul, and made the poor tent-maker and his wife the instructors of the 
eloquent Apollo. And can we doubt that when the fame of Owen's learning 
and intellectual power had spread far and wide, so that even foreign 
divines are said to have studied our language in order that they might 
read his works the recollection of the mode of his own spiritual 
deliverance would repress all self dependence and elation, and make him 
feel that the highest form of success in preaching was in no respect the 
monopoly of high intellectual gifts; but that in every instance it was, 
"not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord?" 
2 His Pastorate 
  The mind of Owen, now effectually relieved from the burden of spiritual 
distress, soon recovered its elasticity and vigour; and in March 1642 he 
gave to the world his first literary production,--"The Display of 
Arminianism." In all likelihood he had been silently labouring at this 
work while in the families of Sir Philip Dormer and Lord Lovelace; more 
especially as his mental distress may have had some connection with a 
misunderstanding of certain of those points of which the Armenian 
controversy touches, and have led to their more full examination. But we 
may discover the principal occasion of the work in the ecclesiastical 
policy of the period, and in the strain of doctrinal sentiment which that 
policy had long aimed to foster and to propagate. Laud and his party had 
shown themselves as zealous for the peculiar dogmas of Arminianism, as 
for Romish rites and vestment and for passive obedience; and the dogmas 
had been received into royal favour because of their association with the 
advocacy of superstitious ceremonies and the defense of despotic rule. 
Arminianism having thus been constituted the exclusive way to preferment, 
had become the fashionable creed; and a current of doctrine had flowed 
into the church which was rapidly changing the character of its 
ministration, and bearing it away from those safe moorings at which its 
own articles and its Reformers had fixed it. 
  A remark by Owen, in his address to the reader, correctly describes the 
Laudean policy: "Had a poor Puritan offended against half so many canons 
as they opposed articles, he had forfeited his livelihood, if not 
endangered his life." And in another passage he explains the progress of 
Arminianism in England: "The chief cause I take to be that which Aeneas 
Sylvius gave, why more maintained the pope to be above the council than 
the council above the pope;--because the popes gave archbishoprics and 
bishoprics, &c, but the councils sued 'in forma pauperis,' and therefore 
could scarce get an advocate to plead their cause. The fates of our 
church having of late devolved the government of it on men tainted with 
this poison, Arminianism became backed with the powerful arguments of 
praise and preferment, and quickly beat poor naked Truth into a corner." 
  Owen's "Display" is a barrier raised against prevailing opinions. Each 
chapter contains a statement of the Arminian doctrine on the point 
discussed, with Owen's answer; while at the end of each chapter the 
Armenian doctrine is more briefly stated, in the language of some 
Arminian writer, and confronted in opposite columns by passages of 
Scripture. Undoubtedly there are some things charged upon the Arminianism 
of those times which belong rather to the family of Pelagian errors, and 
which the pious Armenian of our own day would at all events repudiate. 
Nor is it to be denied that the work is not free, in some parts, of the 
fault which clings to so much theological controversy,--that of making 
individuals responsible, not only for the opinions they avow, but for all 
the consequences that you may deduce from them; yet, withal, it is rich 
in matter which must have staggered the courtly theologians of the age,-- 
is hung all round with massive Calvinistic armour; and, though written in 
a more scholastic form than most of Owen's subsequent works, gives 
indication of that spirit which was so characteristic of the Puritans, 
and preeminently of Owen, and which gave such a depth to their piety,-- 
the spirit which connected all events with God, and bent with lowly and 
awe-struck feeling before the divine sovereignty. 
  Owen dedicated his work to "The Lords and gentlemen of the committee 
for Religion;" who appointed it to be printed by the Committee of the 
House of Commons for regulating the printing and publishing of books. Its 
publication is interesting on another account,--as having been the means 
of introducing him to his first pastoral charge. The incumbent of Fordham 
in Essex having been ejected from his living by the committee for purging 
the church of scandalous ministers, Owen was invited by the same 
committee to occupy the vacant parish. Not long after his removal to 
Fordham, he was married to a lady of the name of Rooks. But nearly all 
the information that here descended to us regarding this union, from the 
earlier biographies, amounts to this,--that the lady bore to him eleven 
children, all of whom, except one daughter, died in early youth. This 
only daughter became the wife of a Welsh gentleman; but the union proving 
unhappy, she "returned to her kindred and to her father's house," and 
soon after died of consumption. 
  This period of Owen's early pastorals appears to have been one of the 
happiest of his life. Fordham is a secluded village, overhanging the 
fertile and pleasing valley of the Stour, which divides Suffolk from 
Essex. Its inhabitants, at the present day, number about seven hundred; 
but in the days of Owen they could not have been by any means so 
numerous. In this retreat, and surrounded by e not very dense rural 
population, he was allowed to pursue in peace the quiet duties of a 
country parish, and knew nothing as yet of those more public and 
distracting responsibilities which he ever undertook with reluctance, and 
which he appears to have usually renounced with satisfaction. The 
spiritual interests of the parish having been neglected by his 
predecessor, he set himself with earnest system to break up the fallow 
ground, and to preach those truths which had still to his mind all the 
freshness of first love. The good Puritan practice of visiting and 
catechizing from house to house gave him a large place in the affections 
of his people, as well as revealed to him the measure of their Christian 
intelligence; while his solid preaching soon gathered around him the 
inhabitants of his own parish, and even allured multitudes across the 
borders of the neighbouring parishes to listen to his weighty words. Like 
Baxter at Kidderminster, he was ere long cheered by witnessing one of 
those widespread and enduring reformations which have never followed on 
any agency save the earnest preaching of "Christ. crucified." 
  The productions of his pen at this period indicate the current of his 
thoughts, and the liveliness of his evangelic zeal. The first of these is 
entitled, "The Duty of Pastors and People Distinguished," and was 
published in 1643. Its main design is to "describe the means to be used 
by the people of God, distinct from church officers, for the increasing 
of divine knowledge in themselves and others," and to show how "the 
sacred calling may retain its ancient dignity, though the people of God 
be not deprived of their Christian liberty." It bears internal evidence 
of having been drawn from him by the unscriptural assumptions of those 
ecclesiastics who thought to place their interdict on every thing like 
the agency of private members in the church, though there are particular 
passages aimed at those fiery persons who sought to introduce into the 
church the spirit of a wild democracy, and whose mode of making "all the 
Lord's people prophet," was to dispense with the inestimable benefits of 
a stated ministry. As it is the earliest, so it is one of the most useful 
of Owen's smaller treatises, and is remarkable for its skilful 
harmonizing of authority with liberty. How much of his axiomatic sagacity 
there is in the following sentence: "Truth revealed to any, carries with 
it an immovable persuasion of conscience that it ought to be published 
and spoken to others!" And how much of wise restraint and rebuke in this: 
"Let not them who despise a faithful, painful minister in public, flatter 
themselves with hope of a blessing in private. Let them pretend what they 

(continued in part 2...)

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