(Owen, Christologia, Part 6)

Chapter VI. The Person of Christ the great Repository of Sacred Truth- 
-Its Relation thereunto. 
Divine supernatural truth is called by the apostle, "The truth which 
is after godliness:" Tit. 1: 1. Whereas, therefore, the person of 
Christ is the great mystery of godliness, we must, in the next place, 
inquire--What is the relation of spiritual supernatural truth there 
unto? And this I shall do, in pursuit of what was proposed in the 
foregoing chapter, viz, that he is the great representative unto the 
church, of God, his holy properties, and the counsels of his will. 
 All divine truth may be referred unto two heads. First, that which is 
essentially so; and then that which is so declaratively. The first is 
God himself, the other is the counsel of his will. 
 First, God himself is the first and only essential Truth, in whose 
being and nature the springs of all truth do lie. Whatever is truth so 
far as it is so, derives from him, is an emanation from that eternal 
fountain of it. Being, truth, and goodness, is the principal notion of 
God; and in him they are all the same. How this is represented in 
Christ as in himself he is the essential image of the Father, and as 
incarnate the representative image of him unto us --hath been 
 Secondly, The counsels of God are the next spring and cause--as also 
the subject-matter or substance--of all truth that is so 
declaratively. Divine truth is "the declaration of the counsel of 
God:" Acts 20: 27. Of them all the person of Christ is the sacred 
repository and treasury--in him are they to be learned. All their 
efficacy and use depend on their relation unto him. He is the centre 
and circumference of all the lines of truth--that is, which is divine, 
spiritual, and supernatural. And the beauty of it is presented unto us 
only in his face or person. We see it not, we know it not, but as God 
shines into our hearts to give us the knowledge of it therein: 2 Cor. 
4: 6. 
 So he testifieth of himself, "I am the truth:" John 14: 6. He is so 
essentially--as he is one with the Father, the God of truth: Deut. 
32:4. He is so efficiently--as by him alone it is fully and 
effectually declared; for "no man has seen God at any time; the 
only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared 
him:" John 1: 18. He is so substantially--in opposition unto the types 
and shadows of the Old Testament; for in him dwelt "the fulness of the 
godhead bodily:" Col. 2: 9. "The body is of Christ:" verse 17. He is 
so subjectively for all divine truth, relating to the saving knowledge 
of God, is treasured up in him. "In him are hid all the treasures of 
wisdom and knowledge:" verse 3. That is, the wisdom and knowledge of 
God--in his counsels concerning the vocation, sanctification, and 
salvation, of the church--concerning which the apostle falls into that 
holy admiration, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and 
knowledge of God!" Rom. 11: 33. And they are called "treasures" on a 
twofold account, both mentioned together by the Psalmist. "How 
precious are thy thoughts unto me, O Lord; how great is the sum of 
them!" They are treasures, because precious and invaluable--and are 
therefore usually preferred above all earthly treasures which men most 
highly esteem: Prov. 3: 14,15. And they are so, because of the 
greatness of the sum of them; and therefore also called "unsearchable 
riches:" Eph. 3: 8. These precious, unsearchable treasures of the 
wisdom and knowledge of God--that is, all divine supernatural truths-- 
are hid, or safely deposited, in Christ--in and from whom alone they 
are to be learned and received. 
 So we are said to learn the truth as it is in Jesus: Eph 4: 21. And 
the knowledge of all evangelical sacred truth is, in the Scripture, 
most frequently expressed by the knowledge of Him: John 8: 19; 17: 3; 
2 Cor. 2: 14; 4: 5, 6; Eph. 1: 17; Phil. 3: 8, 10; 1 John 1: 1, 2; 2: 
4, 13, 14; 5: 20; 2 Pet. 2: 20. 
 Setting aside what we have discoursed and proved before--concerning 
the laying of the foundation of all the counsels of God in the person 
of Christ, and the representation of them in the ineffable 
constitution thereof--I shall give some few instances of this relation 
of all supernatural truths unto him--manifesting that we cannot learn 
them, nor know them, but with a due respect thereunto. 
 1. There are two things wherein the glory of truth does consist. (1.) 
Its light. (a) Its efficacy or power. And both these do all 
supernatural truths derive from this relation unto Christ. 
 (1.) No truth whatever brings any spiritual light unto the mind, but 
by virtue thereof. "In him is life, and the life is the light of men:" 
John 1: 4. He is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that comets 
into the world:" verse 9. Wherefore, as truth is the only means of 
illumination, so it cannot communicate any light unto the mind, but 
only as it is a beam from him, as it is an organ to convey it from 
that fountain. Separated from him and its relation unto him, it will 
not retain, it cannot communicate, any real spiritual light or 
understanding to the souls of men. How should it, if all light be 
originally in him--as the Scripture testifieth? Then alone is the mind 
irradiated with heavenly truth, when it is received as proceeding 
from, and leading unto, the Sun of Righteousness the blessed spring of 
all spiritual light--which is Christ himself. Whatever notional 
knowledge men may have of divine truths, as they are doctrinally 
proposed in the Scripture, yet--if they know them not in their respect 
unto the person of Christ as the foundation of the counsels of God--if 
they discern not how they proceed from him, and centre in him--they 
will bring no spiritual, saving light unto their understanding. For 
all spiritual life and light is in him, and from him alone. An 
instance hereof we have in the Jews. They have the Scriptures of the 
Old Testament, wherein the substance of all divine truth is revealed 
and expressed; and they are diligent in the study of them; howbeit 
their minds are not at all illuminated  nor irradiated by the truths 
contained in them, but they live and walk in horrible darkness. And 
the only reason hereof is, because they know not, because they reject, 
the relation of them unto Christ--without which they are deprived of 
all enlightening power. 
 (2.) Efficacy or power is the second property of divine truth. And 
the end of this efficacy is to make us like unto God: Eph 4: 20-24. 
The mortification of sin, the renovation of our natures, the 
sanctification of our minds, hearts, and affections, the consolation 
of our souls, with their edification in all the parts of the life of 
God, and the like, are the things that God has designed to effect by 
his truth; (John 17: 17;) whence it is able to "build us up, and give 
us an inheritance among all them that are sanctified:" Acts 20:32. But 
it is from their relation unto the person of Christ that they have any 
thing of this power and efficacy. For they have it no otherwise but as 
they are conveyances of his grace unto the souls of men. So 1 John 1: 
1, 2. 
 Wherefore, as professors of the truth, if separated from Christ as 
unto real union, are withering branches--so truths professed, if 
doctrinally separated from him, or their respect unto him, have no 
living power or efficacy in the souls of men. When Christ is formed in 
the heart by them, when he dwelleth plentifully in the soul through 
their operation, then, and not else, do they put forth their proper 
power and efficacy. Otherwise, they are as waters separated from the 
fountain--they quickly dry up or become a noisome puddle; or as a beam 
interrupted from its continuity unto the sun--it is immediately 
deprived of light. 
 2. All divine spiritual truths are declarative, either of the grace 
and love of God unto us, or [of] our duty, obedience, and gratitude 
unto him. But, as unto these things, Christ is all and in all; we can 
have no due apprehensions of the love and grace of God, no 
understanding of the divine truths of the Word--wherein they are 
revealed, and whereby they are exhibited unto them that believe--but 
in the exercise of faith on Christ himself. For in, by, and from him 
alone, it is that they are proposed unto us, that we are made 
partakers of them. It is from his fulness that all grace is received. 
No truth concerning them can, by any imagination, be separated from 
him. He is the life and soul of all such truths--without which, they, 
as they are written in the Word, are but a dead letter, and that of 
such a character as is illegible unto us, as unto any real discovery 
of the grace and love of God. And as unto those of the other sort, 
which are instructive unto us in our duty, obedience, and gratitude-- 
we cannot come unto a practical compliance with any one of them, but 
by the aids of grace received from him. For without him we can do 
nothing; (John 15: 5;) and he alone understands divine truth who does 
it: John 7: 17. There is not, therefore, any one text of Scripture 
which presseth our duty unto God, that we can so understand as to 
perform that duty in an acceptable manner, without an actual regard 
unto Christ, from Whom alone we receive ability for the performance of 
it, and in or through whom alone it is accepted with God. 
 3. All the evidence of divine spiritual truth, and all the foundation 
of our real interest in the things whereof it is a declaration--as to 
benefit, advantage, and comfort--depend on their relation unto Christ. 
We may take an instance in one article of divine truth, which seems to 
be most disengaged from any such relation, namely, the resurrection of 
the dead. But there is no man who rightly believes or comprehends this 
truth, who does it not upon the evidence given unto it, and example of 
it, in the person of Christ rising from the dead. Nor can any man have 
a comfortable expectation or faith of an especial interest in a 
blessed resurrection, (which is our whole concern in that truth, Phil. 
3: 11,) but by virtue of a mystical union unto him, as the head of the 
church that shall be raised unto glory. Both these the apostle inserts 
upon at large, 1 Cor. 15. So is it with all other truths whatever. 
 Wherefore, all divine supernatural truths revealed in the Scripture, 
being nothing but the declaration of these counsels of God, whose 
foundation was laid in the person of Christ; and whereas they are all 
of them expressive of the love, wisdom, goodness, and grace of God 
unto us, or instructive in our obedience and duty to him--all the 
actings of God towards us, and all ours towards him, being in and 
through him alone; and whereas all the life and power of these truths, 
all their beauty, symmetry, and harmony in their union and 
conjunction, which is expressive of divine wisdom, is all from him, 
who, as a living spirit diffused through the whole system, both acts 
and animates it--all the treasures of truth, wisdom, and knowledge, 
may be well said to be hid in him. And we may consider some things 
that ensue hereon. 
 1. Hence it is, that those who reject the divine person of Christ-- 
who believe it not, who discern not the wisdom, grace, love, and power 
of God therein--do constantly reject or corrupt all other spiritual 
truths of divine revelation. Nor can it otherwise be. For they have a 
consistency only in their relation unto the mystery of godliness--"God 
manifest in the flesh"--and from thence derive their sense and 
meaning. This being removed--the truth, in all other articles of 
religion, immediately falls to the ground. An instance hereof we have 
in the Socinians. For, although they retain the common notions of the 
unity and existence of the divine nature, which are indelibly fixed on 
the minds of men, yet is there no one truth that belongs peculiarly 
unto the Christian religion, but they either deny it or horribly 
deprave it. Many things concerning God and his essential properties-- 
as his immutability, immensity, prescience--they have greatly 
perverted. So is that fulfilled in them which was spoken by Jude the 
apostle, verse 10. They "speak evil of those things which they know 
not: and what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things 
they corrupt themselves." So they do in the things mentioned, whereof 
there are natural notions in the minds of men; but of evangelical 
truths which they know not--they speak evil, and deride them. The holy 
Trinity they blaspheme--the incarnation of the Son of God they scorn-- 
the work of his mediation in his oblation and intercession, with the 
satisfaction and merit of his obedience and suffering, they reject. So 
do they [reject] whatever we are taught of the depravation of our 
natures by the fall, of the renovation of them by the Holy Ghost; and 
unto all other articles of our faith do they offer violence, to 
corrupt them. The beginning of their transgression or apostasy, is in 
a disbelief of the divine person of Christ. That being rejected, all 
other sacred truths are removed from their basis and centre, [from] 
that which gives them their unity and harmony. Hereon they fluctuate 
up and down in the minds of men, and, appearing unto them under 
various deceiving colours, are easily misapprehended or disbelieved. 
Yea, there can no direct, proper representation be made of them unto 
the understandings of men. Dissolve the knot, centre, and harmony in 
the most beautiful composition or structure--and every part will 
contribute as much unto the deformity and ruin of the whole, as it did 
before unto its beauty and consistency. So is it with every doctrine-- 
so is it with the whole system of evangelical truths. Take the person 
of Christ out of them, dissolve their harmony in relation thereunto-- 
whereby we no longer hold the Head in the faith and profession of them- 
-and the minds of men cannot deliver them from an irreconcilable 
difference among themselves. Hereon some of them are immediately 
rejected, and some of them corrupted; for they lose their native light 
and beauty. They will neither agree nor consist any where but in 
Christ. Hence it is that no instance can be given of any, who, from 
the original of the Christian religion, rejected the divine person of 
Christ, and preserved any one evangelical truth besides, pure and 
uncorrupted. And I do freely confess, that all which we believe 
concerning the holy Trinity, the eternal counsels of God, the efficacy 
of the mediation of Christ, his satisfaction and merit, the way which 
we own of the sanctification, justification, and salvation of the 
church--are to be esteemed fables, as the Socinians contend, if what 
we believe concerning the person of Christ be so also. 
 2. Hence it is that the knowledge and profession of the truth, with 
many, is so fruitless, inefficacious, and useless. It is not known, it 
is not understood nor believed--in its relation unto Christ; on which 
account alone it conveys either light or power to the soul. Men 
profess they know the truth; but they know it not in its proper order, 
in its harmony and use. It leads them not to Christ, it brings not 
Christ unto them; and so is lifeless and useless. Hence, ofttimes, 
none are more estranged from the life of God than such as have much 
notional knowledge of the doctrines of the Scripture. For they are all 
of them useless, and subject to be abused, if they are not improved to 
form Christ in the soul, and transform the whole person into his 
likeness and image. This they will not effect where their relation 
unto him is not understood--where they are not received and learned as 
a revelation of him, with the mystery of the will and wisdom of God in 
him. For whereas he is our life, and in our living unto God we do not 
so much live as he liveth in us, and the life which we lead in the 
flesh is by the faith of him so that we have neither principle nor 
power of spiritual life, but in, by, and from him--whatever knowledge 
we have of the truth, if it do not effect a union between him and our 
souls, it will be lifeless in us, and unprofitable unto us. It is 
learning the truth as it is in Jesus, which alone reneweth the image 
of God in us: Eph. 4: 21-24. Where it is otherwise--where men have 
notions of evangelical truths, but know not Christ in them--whatever 
they profess, when they come really to examine themselves, they will 
find them of no use unto them, but that all things between God and 
their souls are stated on natural light and common presumptions. 

John Owen, Christologia

(continued in Part 7...)

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