(Thomson, Life of Dr. Owen. part 6)

over the head of Owen in those changeful and stormy years. And there were 
other persons more powerful still,--such as the Earl of Ornery, the Earl 
of Anglesea, Lord Berkeley, Lord Willoughby, Lord Wharton, and Sir John 
Tremor, one of the principal secretaries of state; who, though not 
members of Owen's church, were religiously disposed, and Owen's friends, 
and inclined, as far as their influence went, to mitigate the severities 
against the Nonconformists generally. 
  Owen's intimacy with these noblemen probable accounts for that 
interview to which he was invited by the King and the Duke of York, and 
which has been faithfully chronicled by all his biographers. Happening to 
be at Tunbridge Wells when his majesty and the duke were also there, he 
was introduced to the royal tent. The king freely conversed with him on 
the subject of religious liberty, and expressed his wish to see the 
Dissenters relieved of their disabilities. On his return to London, he 
invited Owen to repeated interviews, uttering the same sentiments as he 
had done during the first conversation, and at length intrusted him with 
a thousand guineas, to be employed by him in mitigating the sufferings of 
his poorer brethren. The general policy of Charles sufficiently accounts 
for these gleams of royal sunshine.  
  But the importance of those friendships is not seen by us until we have 
marked the use which Owen made of them in the cause of his suffering 
brethren. It is well known that when the Parliament again assembled, it 
expressed its strong displeasure at the king's indulgence, and never 
ceased its remonstrances until the licenses to places of worship had been 
withdrawn. A disposition, it is true, began to show itself to distinguish 
between the Protestant Nonconformists and the Romanists, and to point 
restriction more particularly against the latter; but the act, which was 
professedly intended to bear against them was so clumsily constructed as 
to be capable of reaching all who did not conform, and Churhmem were not 
slow in giving it this direction. The Nonconformists were exposed anew to 
the persecuting storm; informers were goaded by increased rewards; and 
among thousands of less illustrious sufferers, Richard Baxter suffered 
joyfully the spoiling of his goods, and was condemned to what his ardent 
spirit did indeed feel bitterly,--a year of almost unbroken silence. 
Owen, however, appears to have been left comparatively unmolested,-- 
probably owing to the influences we have specified; and it is interesting 
to learn from an adversary with what zeal and constancy he employed his 
advantages to warn and succour the oppressed. "Witness his fishing out 
the king's counsels, and inquiring whether things went well to his great 
Diana, liberty of conscience?--how his majesty stood affected to it?.-- 
whether he would connive at it and the execution of the laws against it? 
who were or could be made his friends at court?--what bills were like to 
be put up in Parliament?.--how that assembly was united or divided? And 
according to the disposition of affairs he did acquaint his under 
officers; and they, by their letters each post, were to inform their 
fraternity in each corner of the kingdom how things were likely to go 
with them, how they should order their business, and either for a time 
omit or continue their conventicles." Surely this was being able to find 
nothing against him, except as concerning the law of his God. 
  There was no sufferer in whose behalf Owen exerted his influence more 
earnestly than John Bunyan. It is well known that, as a preacher, Bunyan 
excited, wherever he went, an interest not surpassed even by the ministry 
of Baxter. When he preached in barns or on commons, he gathered eager 
thousands around him; and when he came to London, twelve hundred people 
would be found gathered together at seven on the dark morning of a winter 
working-day, to hear him expound the Word of God. Among these admiring 
multitudes Owen had often been discovered;--the most learned of the 
Puritans hung for hours, that seemed like moments, upon the lips of this 
untutored genius. The king is reported to have asked Owen, on one 
occasion, how a learned man like him could go "to hear a tinker prate;" 
to which the great theologian answered "May it please your majesty, could 
I possess the tinker's abilities for preaching, I would willingly 
relinquish all my learning." For some years Bunyan's confinement in the 
prison of Bedford had, through the kindness of his good jailer, been 
attended with many mitigations; but towards the latter part of it, its 
severities had been greatly increased, and Owen used every effort to 
engage the interest of his old friend and tutor, Dr Barlow, for his 
release. Some of the details of this matter have been questioned by 
Southey, and its date is uncertain; but the leading facts seem above 
reasonable suspicion, and it is pleasing to know, that after some 
perplexing delay, Owen's interposition was successful in obtaining 
Bunyan's enlargement. 
  During these chequered and anxious years, Owen's untiring pen had been 
as active as ever. In 1669 he had published "A brief Vindication of the 
Doctrine of the Trinity; as also, of the Person and Satisfaction of 
Christ;" a little treatise, containing the condensed substance of his 
great controversial work against Biddle and the Continental Socinians,-- 
the "Vindiciae Evangelicae." There was wisdom in thus supplying the 
church with a less controversial manual on those vital questions. Many of 
Owen's larger works remind us of some ancient castle, with its embrasures 
and port holes, admirably fitting it for the purposes of defense, but in 
the same degree rendering it unsuitable as a peaceful habitation. In 
little more than forty years after Owen's death, this little work had 
passed through seven editions. In 1672 he had published "A Discourse 
concerning Evangelical Love, Church Peace and Unity," etc.; a work 
combining enlarged and generous sentiment with wise discrimination, and 
in which Owen enters at great length into the question respecting the 
occasional attendance of Nonconformists on the parish churches,--a 
question which found him and Baxter once more ranged on opposite sides. 
  And there were other works whose origin dated from this period, in 
which we can trace the faithful watchman, piously descrying the coming 
danger, or seeking to rear bulwarks against the already swelling tide. 
Two of these were precious fragments been off from his great work on the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, and enlarged to meet present exigencies. The 
first was his "Treatise on the Sabbath;" in which he joined with Baxter, 
and all the other great writers among the Puritans, in seeking to 
preserve this precious fence, which the goodness of God has drawn around 
the vineyard of his church, and which he found assailed on the one hand 
by fanatics, who denounced it as a mere ceremonial and carnal observance, 
and by the more numerous and noisy disciples of the "Book of Sports," who 
hated it for its spirituality. The reader will be struck with the 
contrast between the Puritan Sabbath, as it is depicted in its staid and 
solemn cheerfulness by a Puritan divine, and as he often beholds it 
caricatured by the modern popular writer; and as he finds Owen arguing 
with the same classes of antagonists, and answering the same argument and 
objections as are rife at the present day, he will be disposed to 
subscribe to the theory, that errors have their orbits in which they 
move, and that their return may be calculated at a given juncture. The 
other work of this class to which we refer was, "The Nature and 
Punishment of Apostasy Declared, in an Exposition of Hebrews 6:4-6." It 
was emphatically a book for the times; when the multitudes who had merely 
played a part in religion in Cromwell's days had long since thrown off 
the mask, and taken amends for their restraints in the most shameless 
excesses; when to be sternly moral was almost to incur the suspicion of 
disloyalty; when to be called a Puritan was, with many, more 
discreditable than to be called a debauchee; and when the noon day 
licentiousness of Charles' court, descending through the inferior ranks 
of life, carried every thing before it but what was rooted and grounded 
in a living piety. 
  But the greatest work of Owen at this period was one which we leave its 
elaborate title to describe,--"A Discourse concerning the Holy Spirit; in 
which an account is given of his name, nature, personality, dispensation, 
operations, and effects. His whole work in the Old and New Creation is 
explained; the doctrine concerning it vindicated from opposition and 
reproaches. The nature and necessity also of Gospel holiness, the 
difference between grace and morality, or a spiritual life to God in 
evangelical obedience and a course of moral virtues, is stated and 
explained." The better part of two centuries have elapsed since this work 
of Owen's was given to the world, and yet no English work on the same 
vital subject has approached it in exhaustive fulness. Wilberforce owns 
his obligations to it as one of his great theological textbooks; and 
Cecil declares that it had been to him "a treasure-house" of divinity. It 
was not merely the two common extremes of error that Owen grappled with 
in this masterly treatise,--that of the enthusiasts who talked of the 
inward light and of secret revelations, and that of the Socinians who did 
not believe that there was any Holy Ghost, and of whose scanty creed it 
has been severely said, that it is not likely often to become the faith 
of men of genius. There was a third class of waters at that time, from 
whom Owen apprehended more danger than either,--men who, in their 
preaching, dwelt much upon the credentials of the Bible, but little upon 
its truths,--who would have defended even the doctrine of the Holy Spirit 
as an article of their creed, and at the same time would have derided all 
reference to the actual work of divine grace upon a human heart as the 
"weak imagination of distempered minds." Much of Owen's treatise has 
reference to these accommodating and courtly divines, and is, in fact, a 
vindication of the reality of the spiritual life. He is not always able 
to repress his satire against these writers. Some of them had complained 
that they were reproached as "rational divines;" to which he replied, 
that if they were so reproached, it was, so far as he could discern, as 
Jerome was beaten by an angel for being a Ciceronian (in the judgment of 
some), very undeservedly. 
  Few glimpses are given us of Owen's domestic history; but it appears 
that, in January 1676, he was bereaved of his first wife. One of his 
early biographers says that she "was an excellent and comely person, very 
affectionate towards him, and met with suitable returns." He remained a 
widower for about eighteen months, when he married a lady of the name of 
Michael, the daughter of a family of rank in Dorsetshire, and the widow 
of Thomas D'Oyley, Esq. of Chiselhampton, near Stadham. This lady brought 
Dr Owen a considerable fortune; which, with his own property, and a 
legacy that we left him about the same time by his cousin, Martyn Owen, 
made his condition easy, and even affluent, so that he was able to keep a 
carriage during his remaining years. On all which Anthony Wood remarks, 
with monkish spite, that "Owen took all occasions to enjoy the 
comfortable importances of this life." 
  Many symptoms were now beginning to make it evident that Owen's public 
career was drawing to a close. The excitements and anxieties of a most 
eventful life, and the fatigues of severe study, were making themselves 
visible in more than one disease. Asthma afflicted him with such severity 
as often to unfit him for preaching; and stone, the frequent and 
agonizing disease of studious men in those times, gave no uncertain signs 
of its presence. In these circumstances it became necessary to obtain 
assistants, both in the pastorate of the church in Leaderthall street, 
and also to act as his amanuenses in preparing his remaining works for 
the press among those who, for brief periods, were thus connected with 
him, we meet with the names of two persons of rather remarkable history,- 
-Robert Ferguson, who, beginning his life as a minister, became at length 
a political intriguer and pamphleteer, and, after undertaking some 
perilous adventures in the cause of William, ultimately became a 
Jacobite, and ended his eccentric and agitated course with more of 
notoriety than of honour; and Alexander Shields, a Scotch man, whose 
antipathy to Prelacy was surpassed by his piety, and whose name Scottish 
Presbyterians still venerate as the author of the "Hind let Loose." These 
two probably laboured with Owen principally in the capacity of 
amanuenses; but the amiable and excellent David Clarkson shared with him 
the duties of the pastorate, and rejoiced to divide the anxieties and 
toils, and soothe the declining years, of the illustrious Puritan. 
Clarkson evidently won the generous admiration of Baxter; and Dr Bates 
beautifully spoke of him as "a real saint, in whom the living spring of 
grace in his heart diffused itself in the veins of his conversation. His 
life was a silent repetition of his holy discourses." 
  With the help of his amanuenses, Owen completed and published, in 1677, 
"The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, through the Imputation of the 
Righteousness of Christ, Explained, Confirmed, and Vindicated,"--a work 
in which all the ratiocinative strength and command of resources of his 
best controversial days appear undiminished. We concur, indeed, to a 
certain extent, in the censure which has been charged against that part 
of it which treats of the nature of justifying faith, as tending to 
perplex a subject whose very simplicity makes explanation equally 
impossible and unnecessary. The censure, however, ought not to be 
confined to Owen; for on the subject of faith the Puritan divines, with 
their scholastic distinctions, were far inferior to the theologians of 
the Reformation. The great difficulty about faith is not a metaphysical 
but a moral one; and there is truth in the observation, that elaborate 
attempts to describe it are like handling a beautiful transparency, whose 
lustre disappears whensoever it is touched. 
  This great work was probably the ripened fruit of many years of thought 
But as we examine the productions of Owen during the few remaining years 
of his life, it is easy to discover that they belonged principally to 
three classes, and two of those especially, owed their origin to events 
that were occurring around him, and to dangerous tendencies which his 
ever-vigilant eye was quick to discover. First, there were his various 
writings against Popery, such as his "Church of Rome no Safe Guide;" his 
"Brief and Impartial Account of the Protestant Religion;" and, in some 
degree also, his "Humble Testimony to the Goodness of God in his Dealing 
with Sinful Churches and Nations." In all of these we hear the watchman 
answering, "What of the night?" He is alive to the sympathies of Charles 
and his court with Popery,--to the readiness of not a few in the Church 
of England to move in the direction of Rome,--to the avowed so Romanism 
of the Duke of York, and his possible succession to the throne,--and to 
the dangers to religion, to liberty, and to every thing meet dear to man, 
which these lowering evils portended. The wisdom and foresight of Dr Owen 
in many parts of these writings, which we now read in the light of 
subsequent events, strike us with surprise, often with admiration. 
  In addition to beholding the Protestants duly inspirited and alarmed on 
the subject of Popery, Owen longed to see all alienations and divisions 
among them dispelled, and the various parts of the great Protestant 
community so united and mutually confiding, as to be prepared to resist 
their common adversary. Not that he was the less convinced of the 
necessity and duty of separation from the Episcopal Church; for in a 
controversy with Stillingfleet, into which an ungenerous assault of that 
able Churchman drew him, he had produced one of his best defenses of 
Nonconformity; but he felt a growing desire, both to see the real 
differences between the venous branches of the Nonconformist family 
reduced to their true magnitude, and, in spite of the differences that 
might, after all, remain, to behold them banded together in mutual 
confidence and united action. His work on "Union among Protestants" was 
written with this wise and generous design; and this, we are persuaded, 
was one of the chief ends contemplated by another work,--his "Inquiry 
into the Origin, Nature, Institution, Power, Order, and Communion of 
Evangelical Churches" We are quite aware that some have represented this 
highly valuable treatise as a recantation of Dr Owen's views on church 
polity, and a return to those Presbyterian sentiments with which he had 
entered on his public life; but an examination of the treatise, we think, 
will make it evident that this was not in Owen's thoughts, and that his 
aim was rather to show how far he could come to meet the moderate 
Presbyterian, and to lay down a platform on which united action, in those 
times of trouble and of perils, which all division aggravated, could 
consistently take place. Accordingly we find him, while admirably 
describing the true nature of a Gospel church, as a society of professed 
believers, and refusing to any man or body of men "all power of 
legislation in or over the church," avowing it as his conviction, that 
"the order of the officers which was so early in the primitive church,-- 
viz. of one pastor or bishop in one church, assisted in rule and all holy 
ministrations with many elders, teaching or ruling only,--does not so 
overthrow church order as to render its rule or discipline useless." And 
in reference to the communion of churches, while repudiating every thing 
like authoritative interference and dictation on the part of any church 
or assembly of rulers, he holds that "no church is so independent that it 
can always, and in all cases, observe the duties it owes to the Lord 
Christ and the church catholic, by all those powers which it is able to 
act in itself distinctly, without conjunction of others; and the church 
which conies its duty to the acts of its own assemblies, cuts itself off 
from the external communion of the church catholic." He holds that "a 
synod convened in the name of Christ, by the voluntary consent of several 
churches concerned in mutual communion, may declare and determine of the 
mind of the Holy Ghost in Scripture, and decree the observation of things 
true and necessary, because revealed and appointed in the Scripture." And 
farther, that "if it be reported or known, by credible testimony, that 
any church has admitted into the exercise of divine worship any thing 
superstitious or vain, or if the members of it walk, like those described 
by the apostle, Phil.3:18,19, unto the dishonour of the Gospel and of the 
ways of Christ, the church itself not endeavouring its own reformation 
and repentance, other churches walking in communion therewith, by virtue 
of their common interest in the glory of Christ and honour of the Gospel, 
after more private ways for its reduction, as opportunity and duty may 
suggest unto their elders, ought to assemble in a synod for advice, 
either as to the use of farther means for the recovery of such a church, 
or to withhold communion from it in case of obstinacy in its evil ways" 
We do not attempt to measure the distance between these principles and 
the Presbyterianism of Owen's day, or the diminished distance between 
them and the modified Presbyterianism of our own; but we state them, with 
one of Owen's oldest biographers, as an evidence of his "healing temper 
in this matter;" and we even venture to suggest whether, at some future 
period of increased spirituality and external danger, they may not form 
the basis of a stable and honorable union among the two great evangelical 
sections of modern Nonconformists 
  But besides the outward dangers to Protestantism, which made Owen so 
eager for union among his friends, we discover another and more 
interesting explanation still in the increased occupation of his mind 
with the great central truths of the Gospel, and his growing delight in 
them. The minor distinctions among Christians come to be seen by us in 
their modified proportions, when we have taken our place within the inner 
circle of those great truths which constitute the peculiar glory and 
power of Christianity; and this inner and more radiant circle formed more 
and more the home of Dr Owen's heart. This is evident from the three 
great doctrinal and devotional works which were produced by him at this 
period, and which we have yet to name. 
  First, there appeared his "Christologia, or Declaration of the Glorious 
Mystery of the Person of Christ, God and man, with the infinite wisdom, 
love, and power of God in the constitution thereof. As also, of the 
grounds and reasons of his incarnation; the nature of his ministry in 
heaven; the present state of the church above thereon; and the use of his 
person in religion," etc. The root from which the whole discourse 
springs, is the memorable declaration of our Lord to Peter, Matt.16:18, 
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will 
build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it:"--a 
declaration in which Owen finds three great truths, whose illustration 
forms the substance of the volume;-- that the person of Christ is the 
foundation of his church; that opposition will be made by the powers of 
earth and hell to the church, as built on the person of Christ; and that 
the church built on the person of Christ shall never be separated from it 
or destroyed. It is easy to see what a rich field of doctrinal statement, 
learned illustration, and devout reflection, is opened for Owen's mind in 
these themes; and he expatiates in it with all the delight of a mind 
accustomed to high and heavenly communion. It is pleasing to mark how he 
casts off the cumbrous armour of a sometimes too scholastic style, that 
had kept him down in some of his earlier treatises; and, rising from the 
simply didactic into the devotional, aims to catch joyful glimpses of the 
glory that is soon to be revealed. 
Then followed his heart-searching, heart-inspiring treatise on "The Grace 
and Duty of being Spiritually-minded," first preached to his own heart, 
and then to a private congregation; and which reveals to us the almost 
untouched and untrodden eminences on which Owen walked in the last years 
of his pilgrimage,--eminences for reaching which, it has been said by one 
of the humblest and holiest of men of our own times, "it would almost 
appear indispensable that the spiritual life should be nourished in 
solitude; and that, afar from the din, and the broil, and the tumult of 
ordinary life, the candidate for heaven should give himself up to the 
discipline of prayer and of constant watchfulness." 
  The last production of Owen's pen was his "Meditations and Discourses 
on the glory of Christ" It embodies the holy musings of his latest days, 
and in many parts of it seems actually to echo the presses of the 
heavenly worshippers. We may apply to Owen's meditations, as recorded in 
this book, the words of Bunyan in reference to his pilgrim,--"Drawing 
near to the city, he had yet a more perfect view thereof." It is a 
striking circumstance, that each of the three great Puritan divines wrote 
a treatise on the subject of heaven, and that each had his own distinct 
aspect in which he delighted to view it. To the mind of Baxter, the most 
prominent idea of heaven was that of rest; and who can wonder, when it is 
remembered that his earthly life was little else than one prolonged 
disease?--to the mind of Howe, ever aspiring after a purer state of 
being, the favourite conception of heaven was that of holy happiness;-- 
while to the mind of Owen, heaven's glory was regarded as consisting in 
the unveiled manifestation of Christ. The conceptions, though varied, are 
all true; and Christ, fully seen and perfectly enjoyed, will secure all 
the others. Let us now trace the few remaining steps that conducted Owen 
into the midst of this exceeding weight of glory. 
  We have already mentioned Lord Wharton, as one of those noblemen who 
continued their kindness to the Nonconformists in the midst of all their 
troubles. His country residence at Woburn, in Buckinghamshire, afforded a 
frequent asylum to the persecuted ministers; just as we find the castles 
of Mornay and De Plessis in France opened by their noble owners as a 
refuge to the Huguenots. 
  During his growing infirmities, Owen was invited to Woburn, to try the 
effect of change of air; and also that others of his persecuted brethren, 
meeting him in this safe retreat, might enjoy the benefit of united 
counsel and devotion. It appears that while here his infirmities 
increased upon him, and that he was unable to return to his flock in 
London at the time that he had hoped; and a letter written to them from 
this place, gives us so vivid a reflection of the anxieties of a period 
of persecution, and so interesting a specimen of Owens fidelity and 
affection to his people, in the present experience of suffering, and in 
the dread of more, that we have peculiar delight in interweaving it with 
our narrative:-- 
[begin of letter] 
  "Beloved In The Lord,--Mercy, grace, and peace be multiplied to you 
from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, by the communication 
of the Holy Ghost. I thought and hoped that by this time I might have 
been present with you, according to my desire and resolution; but it has 
pleased our holy gracious Father otherwise to dispose of me, at least for 
a season. The continuance of my painful infirmities, and the increase of 
my weaknesses, will not allow me at present to hope that I should be able 
to bear the journey. How great an exercise this is to me, considering the 
season, he knows, to whose will I would in all things cheerfully submit 
myself. But although I am absent from you in body, I am in mind, 
affection, and spirit, present with you, and in your assemblies; for I 
hope you will be found my crown and rejoicing in the day of the Lord; and 
my prayer for you night and day is, that you may stand fast in the whole 
will of God, and maintain the beginning of your confidence without 
wavering, firm unto the end. I know it is needless for me, at this 
distance, to write to you about what concerns you in point of duty at 
this season, that work being well supplied by my brother in the ministry; 
you will give me leave, out of my abundant affections towards you, to 
bring some few things to your remembrance, as my weakness will permit. 
  "In the first place, I pray God it may be rooted and fixed in our 
minds, that the shame and loss we may undergo for the sake of Christ and 
the profession of the Gospel is the greatest honour which in this life we 
can be made partakers of. So it was esteemed by the apostles,--they 
rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name's 
sake. It is a privilege superadded to the grace of faith, which all are 
not made partakers of. Hence it is reckoned to the Philippians in a 
peculiar manner, that it was given to them, not only to believe in 
Christ, but also to suffer for him,--that it is far more honorable to 
suffer with Christ than to reign with the greatest of his enemies. If 
this be fixed by faith in our minds, it will tend greatly to our 
encouragement. I mention these things only, as knowing that they are more 
at large pressed on you. 
  "The next thing I would recommend to you at this season, is the 
increase of mutual love among yourselves; for every trial of our faith 
towards our Lord Jesus Christ is also a trial of our love towards the 
brethren. This is that which the Lord Christ expects from us, namely, 
that when the hatred of the world does openly manifest and act itself 
against us all, we should evidence an active love among ourselves. If 
there have been any decays, any coldness herein, if they are not 
recovered and healed in such a season, it can never be expected. I pray 
God, therefore, that your mutual love may abound more and more in all the 
effects and fruits of it towards the whole society, and every member 
thereof. You may justly measure the fruit of your present trial by the 
increase of this grace among you; in particular, have a due regard to the 
weak and the tempted, that that which is lame may not be turned out of 
the way, but rather let it be healed. 
  "Furthermore, brethren, I beseech you, hear a word of advice in case 
the persecution increases,--which it is like to do for a season. I could 
wish that, because you have no ruling elders, and your teachers cannot 
walk about publicly with safety, that you would appoint some among 
yourselves, who may continually, as their occasions will admit, go up and 
down, from house to house, and apply themselves peculiarly to the weak, 
the tempted, the fearful,--those that are ready to despond or to halt, 
and to encourage them in the Lord. Choose out those to this end who are 
endued with a spirit of courage and fortitude; and let them know that 
they are happy whom Christ will honour with this blessed work. And I 
desire the persons may be of this number who are faithful men, and know 
the state of the church; by this means you will know what is the frame of 
the members of the church, which will be a great direction to you, even 
in your prayers. Watch, now, brethren, that, if it be the will of God, 
not one soul may be lost from under your care. Let no one be overlooked 
or neglected; consider all their conditions, and apply yourselves to all 
their circumstances 
  Finally, brethren, that I be not at present farther troublesome to you, 
examine yourselves as to your spiritual benefit which you have received, 
or do receive, by your present fears and dangers, which will alone give 
you the true measure of your condition; for if this tends to the exercise 
of your faith, and love, and holiness, if this increases your valuation 
of the privileges of the Gospel, it will be an undoubted token of the 
blessed issue which the Lord Christ will give unto your troubles. Pray 
for me, as you do; and do it the rather, that, if it be the will of God, 
I may be restored to you,--and if not, that a blessed enhance may be 
given to me into the kingdom of God and glory. Salute all the church in 
my name. I take the boldness in the Lord to subscribe myself your 
unworthy pastor, and your servant for Jesus' sake, 
J. Owen. 
  "P.S. I humbly desire you would in your prayers remember the family 
where I am, from whom I have received, and do receive, great Christian 
kindness. I may say, as the apostle of Onesiphorus, 'The Lord give to 
them that they may find mercy of the Lord in that day, for they have 
often refreshed me in my great distress.'" 
[end of letter] 
  His infirmities increasing, he soon after removed from London to 
Kensington, for country air; occasionally, however, he was able still to 
visit London; and an incident which happened to him on one of these 
visits presents us with another picture of the times. As he was driving 
along the Strand, his carriage was stopped by two informers, and his 
horses seized. Greater violence would immediately have followed, had it 
not been that Sir Edmund Godfrey, a justice of the peace, was passing at 
the time, and seeing a mob collected round the carriage, asked what was 
the matter? On ascertaining the circumstances, he ordered the informers, 
with Dr Owen, to meet him at the house of another justice of the peace on 
an appointed day. When the day came, it was found that the informers had 
acted so irregularly, that they were not only disappointed of their base 
reward, but severely reprimanded and dismissed. Thus once more did Owen 
escape as a bird from the snare of the fowler. 
  Retiring still farther from the scenes of public life, Owen soon after 
took up his abode in the quiet village of Ealing, where he had a house of 
his own and some property. Only once again did persecution hover over 
him, and threaten to disturb the sacredness of his declining days, by 
seeking to involve him and some other of the Nonconformists in the Rye 
House plot; but the charge was too bold to be believed, and God was 
about, ere long, to remove him from the reach of all these evils, and to 
hide him in his pavilion, from the pride of man and from the strife of 
tongues. Anthony Wood has said of Owen that "he did very unwillingly lay 
down his head and die," but how different was the spectacle of moral 
sublimity presented to the eyes of those who were actual witnesses of the 
last days of the magnanimous and heavenly-minded Puritan! In one of his 
latest writings, when referring to the near approach of the daily 
expected and earnestly desired hour of his discharge from all farther 
serve in this world, he had said, "In the continual prospect hereof do I 
yet live, and rejoice; which, among other advantages unspeakable, has 
already given me an inconcernment in those oppositions which the passions 
or interests of men engage them in, of a very near alliance unto, and 
scarce distinguishable from, that which the grave will afford." And all 
the exercises of his deathbed were the prolonged and brightening 
experience of what he here describes. In a letter to his beloved friend 
Charles Fleetwood, on the day before his death, he thus beautifully 
expresses his Christian affection, and his good hope through grace:-- 
[begin of letter] 
  "Dear Sir,--Although I am not able to write one word myself, yet I am 
very desirous to speak one word more to you in this world, and do it by 
the hand of my wife. The continuance of your entire kindness, knowing 
what it is accompanied withal, is not only greatly valued by me, but will 
be a refreshment to me, as it is, even in my dying hour. I am going to 
Him whom my soul has loved, or rather who has loved me with an 
everlasting love,--which is the whole ground of all my consolation. The 
passage is very irksome and wearisome, through strong pains of various 
sorts, which are all issued in an intermitting fever. All things were 
provided to carry me to London today, according to the advice of my 
physicians; but we are all disappointed by my utter disability to 
undertake the journey. I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm; 
but whilst the great Pilot is in it, the loss of a poor under-rower will 
be inconsiderable. Live, and pray, and hope, and wait patiently, and do 
not despond; the promise stands invincible, that He will never leave us, 
nor forsake us. I am greatly afflicted at the distempers of your dear 
lady; the good Lord stand by her, and support and deliver her. My 
affectionate respects to her, and the rest of your relations, who are so 
dear to me in the Lord. Remember your dying friend with all fervency. I 
rest upon it that you do so, and am yours entirely, 
J. Owen." 
[end of letter] 
  The first sheet of his "Meditations on the Glory of Christ" had passed 
through the press under the superintendence of the Rev. William Payne, a 
Dissenting minister at Saffron Waldon, in Essex; and on that person 
calling on him to inform him of the circumstance on the morning of the 
day he died, he exclaimed, with uplifted hands, and eyes looking upwards, 
"I am glad to hear it; but, 0 brother Payne! the long wished-for day is 
come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I 
have ever done, or was capable of doing, in this world." Still it was no 
easy thing for that robust frame to be broken to pieces, and to let the 
struggling spirit go free. His physicians, Dr Cox and Sir Edmund King, 
remarked on the unusual strength of that earthly house which was about to 
be dissolved; while his more constant attendants on that consecrated hour 
were awe-struck by the mastery which his mighty and heaven-supported 
spirit maintained over his physical agonies "In respect of sicknesses, 
very long, languishing, and often sharp and violent, like the blows of 
inevitable death, yet was he both calm and submit under all." At length 
the struggle ceased; and with eyes and hands uplifted, as if his last act 
was devotion, the spirit of Owen passed in silence into the world of 
glory. It happened on the 24th of August 1683, the anniversary of St. 
Bartholomew's Day;--a day memorable in the annals of the Church of 
Christ, as that in which the two thousand Nonconformist confessors had 
exposed themselves to poverty and persecution at the call of conscience, 
and in which heaven's gates had been opened wide to receive the martyred 
Protestants of France. Eleven days afterwards, a long and mournful 
procession, composed of more than sixty noblemen, in carriages drawn by 
six horses each, and of many others in mourning coaches and on horseback, 
silently followed the mortal remains of Owen along the streets of London, 
and deposited them in Bunhill-fields,--the Puritan necropolis. 
  "We have had a light in this candlestick," said the amiable David 
Clarkson, on the Sabbath following; "we have had a light in this 
candlestick, which did not only enlighten the room, but gave light to 
others far and near: but it is put out. We did not sufficiently value it. 

(continued in part 7...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: owlife-6.txt