(Thomson, Life of Dr. Owen. part 7)

I wish I might not say that our sins have put it out. We had a special 
honour and ornament, such as other churches would much prize; but the 
crown has fallen from our heads,--yea, may I not add, 'Woe unto us, for 
we have sinned?'" 
  Dr Owen had only reached the confines of old age when he died; but the 
wonder is, that a life of such continuous action and severe study had not 
sooner burned out the lamp. It may be remarked of him, as Andrew Fuller 
used to say of himself, that "he possessed a large portion of being." He 
is said to have stooped considerably during the later years of his life; 
but when in his full vigour, his person was tall and majestic, while 
there was a singular mixture of gravity and sweetness in the expression 
of his countenance. His manners were courteous; his familiar 
conversation, though never deficient in gravity, was pleasantly seasoned 
with wit; and he was admired by his friends for his remarkable command of 
temper under the most annoying provocations, and his tranquil magnanimity 
in the midst of all the changes of fortune to which, in common with all 
his great Puritan contemporaries, he was exposed. "His general frame was 
serious, cheerful, and discoursive,-- his expressions savouring nothing 
of discontent, much of heaven and love to Christ, and saints, and all 
men; which came from him so seriously and spontaneously, as if grace and 
nature were in him reconciled, and but one thing." Such is the portrait 
of Owen that has descended to us from those who best "knew his manner of 
life;" and our regret is all the greater, that we are constrained to 
receive the description in this general form, and that biography has 
opened to us so few of those glimpses of his domestic and social life 
which would have enabled us to "catch the living manners as they rose," 
and to fill up for ourselves the less strongly defined outlines of his 
  Our business, however, is more with Dr Owen in his various public 
relations, and it seems to be a fit conclusion of this Memoir, that we 
should now attempt, in a few closing paragraphs, to express the estimate 
which a review of his conduct in these relations warrants us to form of 
his character. One of the most natural errors into which a biographer is 
in danger of being betrayed, is that of asserting the superiority of the 
individual who has been the subject of his memoir to all his 
contemporaries; and it would probably require no great stretch of 
ingenuity or eloquent advocacy to bring out Dr Owen as at least "primus 
inter pares." In finding our way, however, to such conclusions, almost 
every thing depends on the particular excellence on which we fix as our 
standard of judgment; and we are persuaded that were we allowed to select 
a separate excellence in each case our standard, we could bring out each 
of the three great Puritans as, in his turn, the greatest. Let impressive 
eloquence in the pulpit and ubiquitous activity out of it be the 
standard, and all this crowned with successes truly apostolical, and must 
not every preacher of his age yield the palm to Richard Baxter? Or let 
our task be to search for the man in that age of intellectual giants who 
was most at home in the philosophy of Christianity, whose imagination 
could bear every subject he touched upwards into the sunlight, and cover 
it with the splendours of the firmament, and would we not lay the crown 
at the feet of the greatly good John Howe? But let the question be, who 
among all the Puritans was the most remarkable for his intimate and 
profound acquaintance with the truths of revelations who could shed the 
greatest amount of light upon a selected portion of the Word of God, 
discovering its hidden riches, unfolding its connections and harmonies, 
and bringing the most abstruse doctrines of revelation to bear upon the 
conduct and the life 
who was the "interpreter, one amongst a thousands" or let other 
excellencies that we are about to specify be chosen as the standard, and 
will not the name of Dr Owen, in this case, obtain au unhesitating and 
unanimous suffrage? Such a mode, therefore, of expressing our estimate is 
not only invidious, but almost certain to fail, after all, in conveying a 
distinct and accurate conception of the character we commend. We prefer, 
therefore, to contemplate Dr Owen in his principal relations and most 
prominent mental features, and to paint a portrait without fashioning an 
  The first excellence we have to name is one in regard to which, we are 
persuaded, the modern popular estimate has fallen considerably below the 
truth. We refer to the qualities of Owen as a preacher. No one who is 
familiar with his printed sermons, and has marked the rich ore of 
theology with which they abound, will refuse to him the praise of a great 
sermon-maker; but this gift is not always fold united in the same person 
with that other excellence which is equally necessary to constitute the 
preacher,--the power, namely, of expressing all the sentiment and feeling 
contained in the words by means of the living voice. And the general 
impression seems to be, that Dr Owen was deficient in this quality, and 
that his involved sentences, though easily overlooked in a composition 
read in secret, must, without the accompaniments of a most perfect 
delivery, have been fatal to their effect upon a public audience. It is 
even supposed that his intellectual habits must have been unfavourable to 
his readiness as an orator, and that wile, like Addson, he had abundance 
of gold in the bank, he was frequently at a loss for ready money. But 
Owen's contemporaries report far differently; and the admiring judgment 
of some of them is the more to be relied on, that, as in the case of 
Anthony Wood, it was given with a grudge. Their descriptions, indeed, 
would lead us to conclude his eloquence was of the persuasive and 
insinuating, rather than, like Baxter's, of the impassioned kind,--the 
dew, and not the tempest; but in this form of eloquence he appears to 
have reached great success. His amiable colleague, Mr Clarkson, speaking 
of "the admirable facility with which he could discourse on any subject," 
describes him as "never at a loss for language, and better expressing 
himself extempore than others with premeditation;" and retaining this 
felicity of diction and mastery of his thoughts "in the presence even of 
the highest persons in the nation." We have already had occasion to quote 
Wood's representation of Owen's oratory, as "moving and winding the 
affections of his auditory almost as he pleased;" and a writer of great 
judgment and discrimination, who had often heard Owen preach, speaks of 
him as "so great an ornament to the pulpit, that, for matter, manner, and 
efficacy on the hearers, he represented indeed an ambassador of the Most 
High, a teacher of the oracles of God. His person and deportment were so 
genteel and graceful, that rendered him when present as affecting, or 
more than his works and fame when absent. This advanced the lustre of his 
internal excellencies, by shining through so bright a lantern." 
  Indeed, the sermons of Owen and his compeers, not only compel us to 
form a high estimate of the preachers, but of the hearers of those times, 
who could relish such strong meat, and invite its repetition. And seldom 
perhaps on earth has a preacher been called to address more select 
audiences than Owen. We do not now refer to the crowding multitudes that 
hailed his early ministry at Fordham and Coggeshall, or to those little 
secret audiences meeting in upper chambers, to whom truth was whispered 
rather than proclaimed, but to those high intellects that were wont to 
assemble around him at Oxford, and to those helmed warriors and heroes of 
the commonwealth, who, on days of public fasting and thanksgiving, or on 
high occasions of state, would stand in groups to hear the great Puritan 
discourse. Many of these earnest souls were no sciolists in dignity 
themselves, and had first drawn their swords to secure the liberty of 
prophesying and uncontrolled freedom of worship. 
We should form a very imperfect estimate of the character of Dr Owen, and 
of the beneficent influence which he exerted, did we not advert to his 
greatness as a man of affairs. In this respect we need have no hesitation 
in asserting his superiority to all the Puritans Attached from principle 
to that great party whose noble mission it was to assert and to vindicate 
the rights of conscience and freedom of worship, he soon rose to be its 
chief adviser on all occasions of great practical exigency. He combined 
in a remarkable degree that clear perception and firm grasp of great 
abstract principles, that quick discernment of character and detection of 
hidden motive in others, which acts in some men with all the promptitude 
and infallibility of instinct,--that fertility of resources, that 
knowledge of the times for vigorous action and of the times in which to 
economize strength, which, when found in great prominence and happy 
combination in the politician, fit him for the high duties of 
statesmanship. He was the man who, by common consent, was called to the 
helm in a storm. Baxter was deficient in more than one of those qualities 
which are necessary to such a post; while his ardent nature would, on 
some occasions, have betrayed him into practical excesses, and at other 
times his love of nice and subtle distinction would have kept him 
discussing when he should have been acting;--while Howe's elevation above 
the affairs of daily life, his love of solitude, which made him almost 
wish even to die alone in some unfrequented wood, or on the top of some 
far remote mountain, disinclined, if it did not unfit him, for the 
conduct of public affairs. But Owen's singular excellence in this respect 
was early manifested,--and to no eye sooner than to that of Cromwell. We 
have seen him inviting his counsels on the affairs of Dublin University; 
taking him with him to Scotland, not only as his chaplain, but as his 
adviser in the affairs of that campaign, when he found it more difficult 
to manage its theologians than to conquer its armies; and at length 
intrusting to him the arduous and almost desperate enterprise of 
presiding over Oxford, and raising it from its ruins. And throughout more 
than thirty years of the long struggle of the Puritans and 
Nonconformists, he was the counsellor and presiding mind, to whom all 
looked in the hour of important action and overwhelming difficulty.  
  Some have accused Owen and other Nonconformists of his age as too 
political for their office. But who made them such? Was it not the men 
who were seeking to wrest from them their dearest civil rights, and to 
make it a crime to worship God according to their consciences? With such 
base ingenuity of reproach were the Huguenots of France accused of 
holding secret meetings, after they had been forbidden to meet in public. 
It was no small part of Owen's praise, that he saw and obeyed the 
necessity of his position; and that perhaps, of all the Puritans of his 
age, he was the most quick to "observe the signs of the times, and to 
know what Israel ought to do." This is the estimate we should be disposed 
to form from a simple retrospect of the facts of our narrative; but it 
appears to have been the judgment which some of the best of Owen's 
contemporaries were not slow to express. In that admirable letter to 
Baxter from which we have already quoted, referring more particularly to 
Owen's vice-chancellorship, the writer says, "And though his years, 
piety, principles, and strait discipline, with the interest he adhered 
to, affected many of the heads and students with contempt, envy, and 
enmity at the first; his personal worth, obliging deportment, and 
dexterity in affairs that concerned him in that station, so mastered all, 
that the university grew not only content with, but proud of such a 
vice-chancellor. And, indeed, such were his temper and accomplishments, 
that whatever station or sort of men his lot, choice, or interest, should 
place him in or among, it were no small wonder that he were not 
uppermost:-- that was his proper sphere, which those with whom he was 
concerned generally courted him into, and few envied or rivalled." 
  But the aspect in which we most frequently think of Owen, and from 
which our highest estimate of him is formed, is that of a theological 
writer. Even the mere material bulk of his works fills us with surprise; 
and when we consider the intensely active life which Owen led, their 
production strikes us as almost incredible. In Russell's editions 
together with the edition of his "Exposition" by Wright, his works fill 
no fewer than twenty-eight goodly octave volumes, though we almost 
sympathize with the feeling that the folio form, in which many of them 
originally appeared, more fitly represents their intellectual stature. 
"Hew down the pyramids," says Sir James Stephen, with a feeling which 
every lover of the old divinity will understand,--"Hew down the pyramids 
into a range of streets! divide Niagara into a succession of water 
privileges!--but let not the spirits of the mighty dead be thus evoked 
from their majestic shrines to animate the dwarfish structures of our 
bookselling generation."  
  It is only, however, when we have acquired some considerable 
familiarity with the contents of these volumes, and when we remember that 
on almost every one of the great controversies,--such as the Armenian, 
the Socinian, the Popish, and the Episcopalian,--he has produced works 
which, after the lapse of nearly two centuries, are still regarded by 
unanimous consent as masterpieces on the themes on which they treat, that 
we feel unhesitating confidence in placing the name of Owen among the 
first names of that age of amazing intellectual achievement. In some of 
his controversies he had to do with men of inferior ability, of whom it 
might be said, as of some of Fuller's opponents, that "they scarcely 
served him for a breakfast;" but in other controversies, such as that 
with Goodwin on the perseverance of the saints, he was called to grapple 
with some of the best and most accomplished men of his age. But he never 
quailed before any opponent. More than one of his works put an end to the 
controversy by driving his adversaries to despair; and only once--viz., 
in his rash encounter with Walton--did he retire undeniably vanquished 
from the field. It is unnecessary to repeat observations that have been 
made in the narrative on Owen's various works; but this seems to be the 
place at which to indicate what seem to have been the most distinguishing 
qualities of Owen as a theological writer.  
  Perhaps no better word could be found to express one of the most 
striking characteristics of Owen, than that which Mackintosh has used to 
describe the writings of Bentham,--exhaustiveness. He goes through his 
subject "in the length thereof, and in the breadth thereof." It was his 
custom to read all the works that had been written on his particular 
subject,--especially the writings of opponents,--and then to path 
deliberately from point to point of his theme, and bring the whole 
concentrated light of Scripture to bear upon its elucidation and 
establishment. He leaves nothing to be added by one who shall follow in 
the same path, not even little gleanings at the corners of the field.--We 
venture to describe another feature of Owen's works by the phrase, 
Theological conservatism. In an age remarkable for its intellectual 
excitement, which gave birth to all manner of extravagances in opinion, 
like the ocean in a storm, bringing to the surface monsters, and hydras, 
and chimeras dire, and then producing in due season a reaction into the 
shallows of Rationalism, Owen displayed no disposition to change. There 
is no writer in whose opinions throughout life there is more of 
consistency and unity. There is everywhere visible strong intellect and 
profound thought; but it is intellect, not sporting itself with 
novelties, and expending itself in presumptuous speculation, but 
reasoning out and defending what apostles taught, and feeling that there 
is enough in this to fill an angel's grasp. Various causes combined to 
work out this quality in Owen, especially his profound reverence for the 
authority of Scripture, leading him to travel over its ample field, but 
restraining him from passing beyond it; the influence of the truth upon 
his own heart, as a living power writing its divine witness within him; 
and also his vast learning, which enabled him to trace opinions to their 
source, and to detect in that which the ignorant and half-learned looked 
upon as a dazzling discovery, the resurrection of an exploded error, 
whose only novelty was in its name. 
  Allied to this, and in part accounting for it, was what we would style 
the devout Calvinism of Owen's cast of thought. Baxter and he held 
substantially the same truths, their views, even when they seemed the 
most divergent, differing in form and complexion more than in substance; 
but still it is evident that the two great men had each his distinct and 
favourite standing-point. With Baxter, the initial thought was man in 
need of a great restorative system; and this led him outwards and 
upwards, from step to step of the Christian salvation. The initial 
thought with Owen was God in the past eternity devising a scheme of 
salvation through a Mediator; which he unfolded in its wondrous 
arrangements and provisions from age to age of the world, and whose 
glorious results were to continue to be enjoyed for ever and ever. This 
gave a comprehensiveness and an elevation to Owen's whole theology, and 
accounts in part for the fact that Baxter seems greatest when bearing 
upon the duties of the sinner, and calling him to repentance,--"now or 
never;" while Owen comes forth in his greatest strength when instructing 
and building up those who have already believed. 
  And this suggests another of his most remarkable excellencies,--the 
power, namely, of bringing the various doctrines of the Christian system, 
even the most abstruse, to bear, in the form of motive and consolation, 
upon the affections and active powers of our human nature. Great as Owen 
is when we see him as the gigantic polemic, putting forth his 
intellectual might in "earnestly contending for the faith once delivered 
unto the saints;" behave not seen him in all his greatness until, in such 
practical works as his treatise on the "Mortification of Sin in 
Believers," he brings the truth into contacts not so much with the errors 
of the heretic, as with the corruption and deceitfulness of the human 
heart. Then we have hesitated which most to admire,--his intimate 
knowledge of the Word of God, or his profound acquaintance with the heart 
of man, or the skill with which he brings the one into vigorous and 
healing action upon the other; while all his great qualities, as the 
expositor of the Scriptures, as the defender of the faith, as the 
profound theologian, and as the wise practical instructor, have seemed to 
manifest themselves at once in single and united greatness, in that noble 
intellectual pyramid, his "Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews." 
  Yet some of the excellencies that we have named stand closely connected 
with Owen's chief defect,--which is to be found in his manner, rather 
than in his matter. His wish to exhaust his particular theme has made him 
say every thing on a subject that could be said, and betrayed him into an 
occasional prolixity and discursiveness, the absence of which would have 
made his works far more popular, and far more useful. He wants 
perspective in composition, and does not seem to know the secret of 
touching on themes, without labouriously handling them. This, with an 
occasionally involved and parenthetical style, has formed, as we 
conceive, the chief barrier to Owen's yet wider acceptance. The sentiment 
of Dr Vaughan is a just one, that had the fluency and elegance of Bates 
been united to the massive thoughts of Owen, we should have had a near 
approach to the perfect theological writer. But let us admit this 
occasional defect; and let us even farther concede, that in other 
qualities he is not equal to others of the Puritans,--that he is 
surpassed by Biter in point and energy, by Flavel in tenderness, by Howe 
in majesty, by both the Henries in proverb and epigram, by Bates in 
beautiful similitudes;--still, where shall we find, in the theological 
voters of his own or of any age, so much of the accumulated treasures of 
a sanctified learning,--of the mind of God clearly elucidated and 
invincibly defended,--of profound and massive thought? His works are like 
a soil which is literally impregnated with gold, and in which burnished 
masses of the virgin ore are sure to reward him who patiently labours in 
  John Owen belonged to a class of men who have risen from age to age in 
the church, to represent great principles, and to revive in the church 
the life of God. The supreme authority of the Scriptures in all matters 
of religion,--the headship of Christ,--the rights of conscience,-- 
religion as a thing of spirit, and not of form, resulting from the 
personal belief of certain revealed truths, and infallibly manifesting 
itself in a holy life,--the church as a society distinct from the world;- 
-these principles, often contended for in flames and blood, were the 
essence of that Puritanism which found one of its noblest examples in 
Owen. Puritanism, it has been finely said, was the feeling of which 
Protestantism was the argument. But even then, it was an old spirit under 
a new name, which, heaven-enkindled, has ever borne the two marks of its 
celestial origin, in blessing the world and being persecuted by it. It 
was the spirit which breathed in the collards of Germany; in the Hussites 
of Bohemia,--in those saints, who 
      "On the Alpine mountains cold, 
      Kept God's truth so pure of old, 
      When all our fathers worshipp'd stocks and stones;" 
in the Huguenots of France; and in the stern Scottish Covenanters;--and 
which God has sometimes sent down since, like a benignant angel, when the 
church at any time has begun to stagnate in a cold orthodoxy, to trouble 
the waters of the sanctuary, that the lame might be healed. It is a 
spirit which the inert orthodoxy and the superficial evangelism of the 
church even now greatly needs to have breathed into it from heaven. And 
the labourious and prayerful study of the writings of the Puritans might 
do much to restore it. Only let the same truths be believed with the same 
faith, and they will produce the same men, and accomplish the same 
intellectual and moral miracles. A due appreciation of the most pressing 
wants of our age, and a timely discernment of its most serious perils, 
would draw from us the prayer which is said to have once escaped the lips 
even of the cold and calculating Erasmus,--"O, sit anima mea cum 
Puritanis Anglicanis!" 
Appendix to the Life of Dr Owen 
1. Epitaph on his Monument 
Epitaph inscribed on the Monument of Dr Owen in Bunhill-fields 
  John Owen, D.D., born in the county of Oxford, the son of an eminent 
minister, himself more eminent, and worthy to be enrolled among the first 
divines of the age; furnished with human literature in all its kinds, and 
in its highest degrees, he called forth all his knowledge in an orderly 
train to serve the interests of religion, and minister in the sanctuary 
of his God. In divinity, practice, polemic, and casuistical, he excelled 
others, and was in all equal to himself. The Arminian, Socinian, and 
Popish errors, those hydras, whose contaminated breath and deadly poison 
infested the church, he, with more than Herculean labour, repulsed, 
vanquished, and destroyed. The whole economy of redeeming grace, revealed 
and applied by the Holy Spirit, he deeply investigated, and communicated 
to others, having first felt its divine energy, according to its draught 
in the holy Scriptures, transfused into his own bosom. Superior to all 
terrene pursuits, he constantly cherished, and largely experienced, that 
blissful communion with Deity he so admirable describes in his writings. 
While on the road to heaven, his elevated mind almost comprehended its 
full glories and joys. When he was consulted on cases of conscience, his 
resolutions contained the wisdom of an oracle. He was a scribe every way 
instructed in the mysteries of the kingdom of God. In conversation he 
held up to many, in his public discourses to more, in his publications 
from the press to all, who were set out for the celestial Zion, the 
effulgent lamp of evangelical truth, to guide their steps to immortal 
glory. While he was thus diffusing his divine light, with his own inward 
sensations, and the observations of his afflicted friends, his earthly 
tabernacle gradually decayed, till at length his deeply-sanctified soul, 
longing for the fruition of its God, quitted the body. In younger age, a 
most comely and majestic form; but in the latter stages of life, 
depressed by constant infirmities, emaciated with frequent diseases, and 
above all crushed under the weight of intense and unremitting studies, it 
became an incommodious mansion for the vigorous exertions of the spirit 
in the service of its God. He left the world on a day dreadful to the 
church by the cruelties of men, but blissful to himself by the plaudits 
of his God, August 24, 1683, aged 67. 
2. Some letters 
The following Letters embrace all the Correspondence of Dr Owen which has 
been preserved, and is of any importance 
To M. Du Moulin 
Sir,-- I have received your strictures upon our Confession, wherein you 
charge it with palpable contradiction, nonsense, enthusiasm, and false 
doctrine,--that is, all the evils that can be crowded into such a 
writing; and I understand, by another letter since, that you have sent 
the same paper to others,--which is the sole cause of the return which I 
now make to you; and I beg your pardon in telling you, that all your 
instances are your own mistakes, or the mistakes of your friend, as I 
shall briefly manifest to you. 
  First, you say there is a plain contradiction between chap. 3 art. 6, 
and chap. 30 art. 2. In the first place it is said, "None but the elect 
are redeemed;" but in the other it is said, "The sacrament is a memorial 
of the one offering of Christ upon the cross for all." I do admire to 
find this charged by you as a contradiction; for you know full well that 
all our divines who maintain that the elect only were redeemed 
effectually by Christ, do yet grant that Christ died for all, in the 
Scripture sense of the word,--that is, some of all sorts,--and never 
dreamt of any contradiction in their assertion. But your mistake is 
worse; for in chap. 30 art. 2, which you refer to, there is not one word 
mentioned of Christ's dying for all; but that the sacrifice which he 
offered was offered once for all,--which is the expression of the 
apostle, to intimate that it was but once offered, in opposition to the 
frequent repetitions of the sacrifices of the Jews. And pray, if you go 
on in your translation, do not fall into a mistake upon it; for in the 
very close of the article it is said, "That Christ's only sacrifice was a 
propitiation for the sins of all the elect." The words you urge out of 2 
Pet.2:1, are not in the text: they are, by your quotation, "Denied him 
that had redeemed them;" but it is, "Denied the sovereign Lord which had 
bought them;"--which words have quite another sense. 
  Something you quote out of chap. 6 art. 6, where I think you suppose we 
do not distinguish between the "reatus" and "macula" of sin; and do think 
that we grant the defilement of Adam's person, and consequently of all 
intermediate propagations, to be imputed unto us. Pray, sir, give me 
leave to say, that I cannot but think your mind was employed about other 
things when you dreamt of our being guilty of such a folly and madness; 
neither is there any one word in the Confession which gives countenance 
unto it. If you would throw away so much time as to read any part of my 
late discourse about justification, it is not unlikely but that you would 
see something of the nature of the guilt of sin, and the imputation of 
it, which may give you satisfaction. 
  In your next instance, which you refer unto chap. 19 art. 3, by some 
mistake (there being nothing to the purpose in that place), you say, "It 
is presupposed that some who have attained age may be elected, and yet 
have not the knowledge of Jesus Christ; which is a pure enthusiasm, and 
is contrary to chap. 20 art. 2. "Why, sir! that many who are eternally 
elected, and yet for some season--some less, some longer--do live without 
the knowledge of Christ, until they are converted by the Word and Spirit, 
is not an enthusiasm; but your exception is contrary to the whole 
Scripture, contrary to the experience of all days and ages, overthrows 
the work of the ministry, and is so absurd to sense, and reason, and 
daily experience, that I know not what to say to it; only, I confess that 
if, with some of the Armenians, you do not believe that any are elected 
from eternity, or before they do actually believe, something may be 
spoken to countenance your exception: but that we cannot regard, for it 
was our design to oppose all their errors. 
  Your next instance is a plain charge of false doctrine, taken out of 
chap. 11 art. 1, speaking, as you say, of the active obedience of Christ 
imputed to us, which is contrary to art. 3, where it is said that Christ 
acquits by his obedience in death, and not by his fulfilling of the law. 
Sir, you still give me cause of some new admiration in all these 
objections, and I fear you make use of some corrupt copy of our 
Confession;--for we say not, as you allege, that Christ by his obedience 
in death did acquit us, and not by his fulfilling of the law; but we say 
that Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of 
all those who are justified,--which comprehends both his active and 
passive righteousness. But you add a reason, whereby you design to 
disprove this doctrine of our concerning the imputation of the active 
righteousness of Christ unto our justification. Why, you say, it is 
contrary to reason; for that we are freed from satisfying God's justice 
by being punished by death, but not from the fulfilling of the law: 
therefore the fulfilling of the law by Christ is no satisfaction for us,- 
-we are not freed from active obedience, but from passive obedience. 
Pray, sir, do not mistake that such mistaken seasonings can give us any 
occasion to change our judgments in an article of truth of this 
importance. When you shall have been pleased to read my book of 
Justification, and have answered solidly what I have written upon this 
subject, I will tell you more of my mind. In the meantime I tell you, we 
are by the death of Christ freed from all sufferings as they are purely 
penal, and the effect of the curse, though they spring out of that root; 
only, sir, you and I know full well that we are not freed from pains, 
afflictions, and death itself,--which had never been, had they not 
proceeded from the curse of the law. And so, sir, by the obedience of 
Christ we are freed from obedience to the law, as to justification by the 
works thereof. We are no more obliged to obey the law in order to 
justification than we are obliged to undergo the penalties of the law to 
answer its curse. But these things have been fully debated elsewhere. 
  In the last place, your friend wishes it could be avoided, and declined 
to speak any thing about universal grace, for that it would raise some or 
most divines against it. I judge myself beholden to your friend for the 
advice, which I presume he judges to be good and wholesome; but I beg 
your pardon that I cannot comply with it, although I shall not reflect 
with any severity upon them who are of another judgment; and, to tell you 
the truth, the immethodical new method introduced to give countenance to 
universal grace, is, in my judgment, suited to draw us off from all due 
conceptions concerning the grace of God in Jesus Christ; which I shall 
not now stay to demonstrate, though I will not decline the undertaking of 
it, if God gives me strength, at any time. And I do wonder to hear you 
say that many, if not most divines, will rise against it, who have 
published in print that there were but two in England that were of that 
opinion, and have strenuously opposed it yourself. How things are in 
France, I know not; but at Geneva, in Holland, in Switzerland, in all the 
Protestant churches of Germany, I do know that this universal grace is 
exploded. Sir, I shall trouble you no farther. I pray be pleased to 
accept of my desire to undeceive you in those things, wherein either a 
corrupt copy of our Confession or the reasonings of other men have given 
you so many mistaken conceptions about our Confession.--I am, Sir, yours, 
                                                              J. Owen      
To the Lady Hartopp 
  Dear Madam,--Every work of God is good; the Holy One in the midst of us 
will do no iniquity; and all things shall work together for good unto 
them that love him, even those things which at present are not joyous, 
but grievous; only his time is to be waited for, and his way submitted 
unto, that we seem not to be displeased in our hearts that he is Lord 
over us. Your dear infant is in the eternal enjoyment of the fruits of 
all our prayers; for the covenant of God is ordered in all things, and 
sure. We shall go to her; she shall not return to us. Happy she was in 
this above us, that she had so speedy an issue of sin and misery, being 
born only to exercise your faith and patience, and to glorify God's grace 
in her eternal blessedness. My trouble would be great on the account of 
my absence at this time from you both, but that this also is the Lord's 
doing; and I know my own uselessness wherever I am. But this I will beg 
of God for you both that you may not faint in this day of trial,--that 
you may have a clear view of those spiritual and temporal mercies 
wherewith you are yet intrusted (all undeserved),--that sorrow of the 
world may not so overtake your hearts as to disenable to any duties, to 
grieve the Spirit, to prejudice your lives; for it tends to death. God in 
Christ will be better to you than ten children, and will so preserve your 
remnant, and to add to them, as shall be for his glory and your comfort. 
Only consider that sorrow in this case is no duty, it is an effect of 
sin, whose cure by grace we should endeavour. Shall I say, Be cheerful? I 
know I may. God help you to honour grace and mercy in a compliance 
therewith. My heart is with you, my prayers shall be for you, and I am, 
dear madam, your most affectionate friend and unworthy pastor, 
                                                              J. Owen      
To Mrs Polhill 
  Dear Madam,--The trouble expressed in yours is a great addition to 
mine; the sovereignty of divine wisdom and grace is all that I have at 
this day to retreat unto; God direct you thereunto also, and you will 
find rest and peace. It adds to my trouble that I cannot possibly come 
down to you this week. Nothing but engaged duty could keep me from you 
one hour: yet I am conscious how little I can contribute to your guidance 
in this storm, or your satisfaction. Christ is your pilot; and however 
the vessel if tossed whilst he seems to sleep, he will arise and rebuke 
these winds and waves in his own time. I have done it, and yet shall 
farther wrestle with God for you, according to the strength he is pleased 
to communicate. Little it is which at this distance I can mind you of; 
yet some few things are necessary. Sorrow not too much for the dead: she 

(continued in part 8...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: owlife-7.txt