(Owen, Christologia, Part 7)

Chapter VII. Power and Efficacy Communicated unto the Office of 
Christ, for the Salvation of the Church, from his Person 
It is by the exercise and discharge of the office of Christ--as the 
king, priest, and prophet of the church--that we are redeemed, 
sanctified, and saved. Thereby does he immediately communicate all 
gospel benefits unto us--give us an access unto God here by grace, and 
in glory hereafter; for he saves us, as he is the mediator between God 
and man. But hereon an inquiry may be made--whence it is that the acts 
and duties of this office of Christ, in their exercise and discharge, 
should have such a power and efficacy, with respect unto their 
supernatural and eternal ends; for the things which depend upon them, 
which are effected by them, are all the principal means of the glory 
of God, and the only concernments of the souls of men. And this, I 
say, is his holy, mysterious person; from thence alone all power and 
efficacy is derived, and transfused into his offices, and into all 
that is due in the discharge of them. 
 A truth this is, of that importance, that the declaration and 
demonstration of it is the principal design of one entire book of the 
holy Scriptures, viz., of the Epistle of Paul the Apostle unto the 
Hebrews. That the glorious excellency of the person of Christ does 
enable him, in the discharge of his offices, to accomplish those ends, 
which none other, though vested with the same offices, could, in the 
exercise of them, attain unto--is the sum and substance of the 
doctrinal part of that discourse. Here, therefore, we must a little 
fix our meditations--and our interest calls us thereunto. For if it be 
so, it is evident that we can receive no good, no benefit, by virtue 
of any office of Christ, nor any fruits of their exercise, without an 
actual respect of faith unto his person, whence all their life and 
power is derived. 
 God gave of old both kings, priests, and prophets, unto the church. 
He both anointed them unto their offices, directed them in their 
discharge, was present with them in their work, and accepted of their 
duties; yet by none of them, nor by all of them together, was the 
church supernaturally enlightened, internally ruled, or eternally 
saved: nor could it so be. Some of them--as Moses in particular--had 
as much power, and as great a presence of God witch him, as any mere 
man could be made partaker of; yet was he not, in his ministry, the 
saviour of the church--nor could he be so any otherwise than typically 
and temporally. The ministry of them all was subservient unto that end 
which, by its own power, it could not attain. 
 It is evident, therefore, that the redemption and salvation of the 
church do not depend merely on this--that God has given one to be the 
king, priest, and prophet of the church, by the actings of which 
offices it is redeemed and saved; but on the person of him who was so 
given unto us: as is fully attested, Isa. 9: 6, 7. 
 This must be declared. 
 Two things were required, in general, unto the person of Christ, that 
his offices might be effectual unto the salvation of the church, and 
without which they could not so have been. And they are such, as that 
their contrivance in the constitution of one and the same person, no 
created wisdom could reach unto. Wherefore the infinite wisdom of God 
is most gloriously manifested therein. 
 I. The first of these is, that he should have a nature provided for 
him, which originally was not his own. For in his divine nature, 
singly considered, he had no such relation unto them for whom he was 
to discharge his offices, as was necessary to communicate the benefit 
of them, nor could he discharge their principal duties. God could not 
die, nor rise again, nor be exalted to be a prince and a Saviour, in 
his divine nature. Nor was there that especial alliance between it and 
ours, as should give us an especial interest in what was done thereby. 
 It was mankind in whose behalf he was to exercise these offices. He 
was not to bear them with respect immediately unto the angels; and, 
therefore, he took not their nature on him. "Ou gar depou angeloon 
pilambanetai"--"He took not the nature of angels unto him;" (Heb. 2: 
16;) because he was not to be a mediator for them, a saviour unto 
them. Those of them who had sinned were left unto everlasting ruin; 
and those who retained their original righteousness needed no 
redemption. But God prepared a body for him--that is, a human nature: 
Heb. 10: 5. The promise hereof--viz, that he should be of the seed of 
the woman--was the foundation of the church; that is, he was made so 
unto the church in and by that promise: Gen. 3: 15. In the 
accomplishment thereof he was "made of a woman," that so he might be 
"made under the law;" (Gal 4: 4;) and "took upon him the seed of 
Abraham". For because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, 
"he also himself took part of the same:" Heb. 2: 14. For "in all 
things it behaved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might 
be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God:" 
verse 17. And this was absolutely necessary unto the discharge of his 
offices, on the twofold account before mentioned. For-- 
 (1.) Those acts of his offices, whereon the sanctification and 
salvation of the church do principally depend, could not be performed 
but in and by that nature. Therein alone could he yield obedience unto 
the law, that it might be fulfilled in us--without which we could not 
stand in judgment before God. See Rom. 8: 3; 10: 3,4. Therein alone 
could he undergo the curse of the law, or be made a curse for us, that 
the blessing might come upon us: Gal. 3: 13, 14. It was necessary 
that, as a priest, he should have something of his own to offer unto 
God, to make atonement for sin: Heb. 8: 3. The like may be said of his 
whole ministry on the earth--of all the effects of his incarnation. 
 (2.) Herein that cognation and alliance between him and the church, 
which were necessary to entitle it unto a participation of the 
benefits of his mediation, do depend. For hereby he became our goel-- 
the next of kin--unto whom belonged the right of redemptions and from 
whom alone we could claim relief and succour in our lost condition. 
This is divinely and at large declared by the apostle, Heb. 2: 10-18. 
Having at large explained this context in our exposition of that 
chapter, and therein declared both the necessity and benefit of the 
cognation between the church and its High Priest, I shall not here 
farther insist upon it. See to the same purpose, Eph. 5: 25-27. 
Wherefore, had he not been partaker of our nature, we could have 
received no benefit--not that without which we must eternally perish-- 
by any office that he could have undertaken. This, therefore, was 
necessary unto the constitution of his person, with respect unto his 
offices. But-- 
 II. There was yet more required thereunto, or to render his offices 
effectual unto their proper ends. Not one of them could have been so, 
had he been no more than a man--had he had no nature but ours. This I 
shall particularly demonstrate, considering them in their usual 
distribution--unto the glory of his divine person, and our own 
edification in believing. 
 (1.) He could not have been the great and singular prophet of the 
church, had he been a man only, though ever so excellent and glorious; 
and that for these three reasons:-- 
 [1.] He was to be the prophet of the whole catholic church; that is, 
of act the elect of God, of all that shall be saved in all ages and 
places, from the beginning of the world unto the end thereof. He had a 
personal ministry for the instruction of the church, whilst he was on 
the earth; but his prophetical office was not confined thereunto. For 
that was limited unto one nation, Matt.15:24; Rom.15:8, and was for a 
short season only. But the church was never without a prophet--that 
is, one on whom it was incumbent to reveal unto it, and instruct it 
in, the will of God--nor can be so unto the consummation of all 
things. This is Christ alone. For-- 
 1st, I take it for granted that, from the beginning, from the giving 
of the first promise, the Son of God did, in an especial manner, 
undertake the care of the church--as unto all the ends of the wisdom, 
will, and grace of God; and I take it for granted here, because I have 
proved it at large elsewhere. It evidently followeth on the eternal 
compact between the Father and him unto this end. In the work which 
belonged hereunto--that which concerned its instruction in the will of 
God, its saving illumination and spiritual wisdom, is of such 
importance, as that, without it, none can be partaker of any other 
blessings whatever. In this instruction and illumination consists the 
discharge of the prophetical office of Christ. 
 2dly, Upon the account of his susception of his office even before 
his incarnation, considered as God; he is said to act in it so as to 
be sent of God unto his work, Micah 5: 2, "The Ruler of Israel, whose 
goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." His goings 
forth are not his eternal generation, which consists in one individual 
eternal act of the Father; but it is the egress, the exercise of his 
power and care for the church, that is so expressed. These were from 
the beginning the first foundation of the church, in answer unto his 
everlasting counsels, Zech 2: 8, 9, "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, 
After the glory has he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you;" 
and "I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to 
their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me." 
He who is sent calleth himself "The Lord of hosts," and affirms that 
he will destroy the nations by the shaking of his hand; who can be no 
other but God himself. That is, it was the Son of God, who was to be 
incarnate, as is declared in the next words: "Sing and rejoice, O 
daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of 
thee, saith the LORD. And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in 
that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of 
thee; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts has sent me unto 
thee," verses 10, 11. He promiseth that he will dwell in the midst of 
the people; which was accomplished when "the Word was made flesh, and 
dwelt among us," John 1: 14; which was the time of the calling of the 
gentiles, when many nations were to be joined unto the Lord; and those 
that were so called were to be his people: "They shall be my people." 
And yet in all this he was sent by the Lord of hosts: "Thou shalt know 
that the LORD of hosts has sent me unto thee." Wherefore, with respect 
unto his susception of his offices towards the church, the Lord of 
hosts in the person of the Son is said to be sent by the Lord of 
hosts; that is, in the person of the Father. So was he the prophet of 
the church even before his incarnation, sent or designed by the Father 
to instruct it--to communicate spiritual and saving light unto it. So 
he testified concerning himself unto the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I 
am," John 8: 58. Which, as it invincibly proves his eternal pre- 
existence unto his incarnation, so it is not only intended. He was so 
before Abraham, as that the care of the church was then and always 
from the beginning on him. And he discharged this office four ways:-- 
 (1st,) By personal appearances in the likeness of human nature, in 
the shape of a man, as an indication of his future incarnation; and 
under those appearances instructing the church. So he appeared unto 
Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses, to Joshua, as I have proved elsewhere. 
And those peculiar appearances of the person of the Son for the 
instruction of believers, are a full demonstration that the care and 
work of it were committed unto him in a peculiar manner. And I am not 
without thoughts, although I see some difficulty in it, that the whole 
Old Testament, wherein God perpetually treats with men by an 
assumption of human affections unto himself, so to draw us with the 
cords of a man, proceeded from the person of the Son, in a preparation 
for, and prospect of, his future incarnation. 
 (2dly,) By the ministry of angels upon his undertaking to be the 
mediator for the church with God, the angels were in a peculiar manner 
put into dependence on him, even as he became a new and immediate head 
unto the whole creation. This belonged unto that especial glory which 
he had with the Father "before the world was," whereof we have treated 
before. All things were to be anew gathered into a head in him, "both 
which are in heaven, and which are on earth," Eph. 1: 10. And he 
became "the firstborn of every creature," Col. 1: 15, the Lord and 
proprietor of them. Hence the whole ministry of angels was subordinate 
unto him; and whatever instruction was thereby given unto the church 
in the mind and will of God, it was immediately from him, as the great 
prophet of the church 
 (3dly,) By sending his Holy Spirit to inspire, act, and guide the 
prophets, by whom God would reveal himself. God spoke unto them by the 
"mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began," 
Luke 1: 70. But it was the Spirit of Christ that was in them that 
spoke by them, that revealed the things which concerned the redemption 
and salvation of the church, 1 Peter 1: 11, 12. And by this Spirit he 
himself preached unto those that were disobedient in the days of Noah, 
who are now in prison for their disobedience, 1 Peter 3: 19, 20. For 
he was so to prophet of the church always as to tender manifold 
instructions unto the perishing, unbelieving world. Hence is he said 
to lighten "every man that comets into the world," John 1: 9, by one 
way or other communicating to them some notices of God and his will; 
for his light shineth in, or irradiates darkness itself--that darkness 
which is come on the minds of men by sin--though the "darkness 
comprehend it not," verse 5. 
 (4thly,) By the ministry of holy men, acted and moved by his Spirit. 
So he gave forth the word that was written for an everlasting rule of 
faith and obedience unto the church. 
 Thus were the office and work of instructing and illuminating of the 
church on his hand alone from the beginning, and thus were they by him 
discharged. This was not a work for him who was no more but a man. His 
human nature had no existence until the fulness of time, the latter 
days, and therefore could effect or operate nothing before. And 
whereas the apostle distinguisheth between the speaking of God in the 
Son and his speaking in the prophets, opposing the one to the other, 
(Heb. 1: 1, 2,) he does it with respect unto his personal ministry 
unto the Church of the Jews, and not with respect unto his being the 
peculiar fountain of life and light unto the whole church in all ages. 
 It is true, we have under the gospel many unspeakable advantages from 
the prophetical office of Christ, above what they enjoyed under the 
Old Testament; but he was the prophet of the church equally in all 
ages. Only he has given out the knowledge of the mind of God in 
different degrees and measures; that which was most perfect being for 
many reasons reserved unto the times of the Gospel; the sum whereof 
is, that God designed him unto a preeminence above all in his own 
personal ministry. 
 If any shall now inquire how the Lord Christ could be the prophet of 
the church before he took our nature on him and dwelt among us; I 
shall also ask how they suppose him to be the prophet of the church 
now he has left the world and is gone to heaven, so as that we neither 
see him nor hear him anymore? If they shall say that he is so by his 
Spirit, his Word, and the ministry which he has ordained; I say, so 
was he the prophet of the church before his incarnation also. To 
confine the offices of Christ, as unto their virtue, power and 
efficacy, unto the times of the Gospel only, is utterly to evacuate 
the first promise, with the covenant of grace founded thereon. And 
their minds are secretly influenced by a disbelief of his divine 
person, who suppose that the respect of the church unto Christ, in 
faith, love, trust, and instruction, commenceth from the date of his 
 [2.] The full comprehension of the mind and will of God, of the whole 
divine counsel concerning his glory in the sanctification and 
salvation of the church, could not at once reside in the mind of any 
mere creature. Yet was this necessary unto him who was to be the 
prophet of the church; that is, the fountain of truth, life, and 
knowledge unto it. Hence is his name "Wonderful, Counsellor," as he 
who was participant of all the eternal counsels of God; whereon in him 
as incarnate all the treasures of divine wisdom and knowledge were 
hid, Col. 2: 3. In him this could be alone, in whom was life, and "the 
life was the light of men," John 1: 4. God did reveal his mind and 
will by angels and men. But as he did it at sundry times, so he did it 
by several parts, or various parcels--not only as the church was fit 
to receive it, but as they were able to communicate it. The whole of 
the divine counsels could not be comprehended, and so not dewed, by 
any of them. Hence the angels themselves--not withstanding their 
residence in the presence of God, beholding his face, and all the 
glorious messages wherein they were employed--learned more of his mind 
after the personal ministry of Christ, and the revelation of the 
mysteries of his counsel therein, than ever they knew before, Eph 3: 
8, 9, 11; 1 Peter 1: 12. And on the account of their imperfection in 
the comprehension of his counsels, it is said that "he charged his 
angels with folly," Job 4: 18. And the best of the prophets not only 
received divine truth by parcel, but comprehended not the depths of 
the revelations made unto them, 1 Peter 1: 11, 12. 
 To this purpose is that divine testimony, John 1: 18, "No man has 
seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of 
the Father, he has declared him." It is of all the prophets concerning 
whom it is affirmed, that no man has seen God at any time. So is it 
evident in the antithesis between Moses the principal of them, and the 
Lord Christ, in the verse foregoing: "For the law was given by Moses, 
but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Wherefore no man, no other 
man or prophet whatever has seen God at any time; that is, had a 
perfect comprehension of his counsels, his mind and will, as they were 
to be declared unto the church. This is the privilege of the 
only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; not only as 
being his eternal delight and love, but also as one acquainted with 
all his secret counsels--as his fellow and participant of all his 
bosom thoughts. 
 He says that "all that ever came before him were thieves and robbers, 
but the sheep did not hear them," John 10: 8. This some of old 
impiously applied unto the prophets of the Old Testament; whereas he 
intended it only of those false prophets who pretended of themselves 
that they, any of them, were the Messiah, the great Shepherd of the 
sheep, whom his elect sheep would not attend unto. But it is true that 
all who went before him, neither separately nor jointly, had the 
knowledge of God, so as to declare him fully unto the church. 
 It is the most fond and wicked imagination of the Socinians, invented 
to countenance their disbelief and hatred of his divine person, that 
during the time of his flesh he was taken up into heaven, and there 
taught the doctrine of the Gospel, as Muhammad feigned concerning 
himself and his Alkoran. The reason and foundation of his perfect 
knowledge of God was, his being the only-begotten Son in the bosom of 
the Father, and not a fictitious rapture of his human nature. 
 To this purpose have we his own testimony, John 3: 13, "And no man 
has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the 
Son of man which is in heaven." The matter whereof he treats is the 
revelation of heavenly things; For, finding Nicodemus slow in the 
understanding of the doctrine and necessity of regeneration, which yet 
was plain and evident in comparison of some other heavenly mysteries, 
he asks of him, "If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe 
not," (things wrought in the earth and in your own breasts,) "how 
shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?" if I declare unto 
you the deep counsels of the will of God above, verse 12. But hereon a 
question might arise, how he should himself come to the knowledge of 
these heavenly things whereof they had never heard before, and which 
no other man could tell them of, especially considering what he had 
said before, verse 11, "We speak that we do know, and testify that we 
have seen." Hereof he gives an account in these words. Wherefore the 
ascending into heaven, which he denies unto all men whatever--"No man 
has ascended up to heaven"--is an entrance into all the divine, 
heavenly counsels of God; no man either has or ever had a full 
comprehension of these heavenly things but he himself alone. And unto 
him it is ascribed on a double account: first, That he came down from 
heaven; secondly, That when he did so, he yet still continued in 
heaven: which two properties give us such a description of the person 
of Christ as declare him a full possessor of all the counsels of God. 
He descended from heaven in his incarnation, whereby he became the Son 
of man; and he is and was then in heaven in the essence and glory of 
his divine nature. This is the full of what we assert. In the 
knowledge and revelation of heavenly mysteries, unto the calling, 
sanctification, and salvation of the church, does the prophetical 
office of Christ consist. This he positively affirms could not 
otherwise be, but that he who came down from heaven was also at the 
same instant in heaven. This is that glorious person whereof we speak. 
He who, being always in heaven in the glory and essence of his divine 
nature, came down from heaven, not locally, by a mutation of his 
residence, but by dispensation in the assumption of our nature into 
personal union with himself--he alone is meet and able to be the 
prophet of the church in the revelation of the heavenly mysteries of 
the counsels of the will of God. In him alone were "hid all the 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge," Col. 2: 3, because in him alone 
"dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily," verse 9. 
 I do not hereby ascribe the infusion of omniscience, of infinite 
understanding, wisdom, and knowledge, into the human nature of Christ. 
It was and is a creature, finite and limited, nor is a capable subject 
of properties absolutely infinite and immense. Filled it was with 
light and wisdom to the utmost capacity of a creature; but it was so, 
not by being changed into a divine nature or essence, but by the 
communication of the Spirit unto it without measure. The Spirit of the 
LORD did rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the 
spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear 
of the Lord, and made him of quick understanding in the fear of the 
LORD, Isa. 11: 2, 3. 
 [3.] The Spirit of God dwelling in him, in all the fullness of his 
graces and gifts, gave him an understanding peculiar unto himself; as 
above that of all creatures, so beneath the essential omniscience of 
the divine nature. Hence some things, as he was a man, he knew not, 
(Mark 13: 32,) but as they were given him by revelation, Rev. 1: 1. 
But he is the prophet of the church in his whole entire person, and 
revealed the counsel of God, as he was in heaven in the bosom of the 
Father. Cursed be he that trusteth in man, that maketh flesh his arm, 
as to the revelations of the counsels of God. Here lies the safety, 
the security, the glory of the church. How deplorable is the darkness 
of mankind, in their ignorance of God and heavenly things! In what 
ways of vanity and misery have the generality of them wandered ever 
since our first apostasy from God! Nothing but hell is more full of 
horror and confusion than the minds and ways of men destitute of 
heavenly light. How miserably did those among them who boasted 
themselves to be wise, was foolish in their imaginations! How woefully 
did all their inquiries after the nature and will of God, their own 
state, duty, and happiness, issue in curiosity, uncertainty, vanity, 
and falsehood! He who is infinitely good and compassionate, did from 
the beginning give some relief in this woeful state, by such parcels 
of divine revelations as he thought meet to communicate unto them by 
the prophets of old--such as they were able to receive. By them he set 
up a Light shining in a dark place, as the Light of stars in the 
night. But it was the rising of the Sun of Righteousness alone that 
dispelled the darkness that was on the earth, the thick darkness that 
was on the people, bringing life and immortality to light by the 
gospel. The divine person of the Son of God, in whom were hid all the 
treasures of wisdom and knowledge, who is in the bosom of the Father, 
has now made known all things unto the church, giving us the perfect 
idea and certainty of all sacred truth, and the full assurance of 
things invisible and eternal. 
 Three things are necessary, that we may have the benefit and comfort 
of divine light or truth--1st, The fulness of its revelation; 2dly, 
The infallibility of it; and, 3dly, The authority from whence it does 
proceed. If either of these be wanting, we cannot attain unto 
stability and assurance in the faith of it, or obedience unto it. 
 1st, Full it must be, to free us from all attempt of fear that any 
thing is detained or hidden from us that were needful for us to know. 
Without this the mind of man can never come to rest in the knowledge 
of truth All that he knows may be useless unto him, for the want of 
that which he neither does nor can know, because not revealed. 
 2dly, And it must be infallible also. For this divine truth whereof 
we treat, being concerning things unseen--heavenly, eternal mysteries, 
transcending the reach of human reason--nothing but the absolute 
infallibility of the reviler can bring the mind of man to assurance 
and acquiescency. And whereas the same truth enjoins unto us duties, 
many of them contrary unto our inclinations and cross unto our several 
interests--the great guides of corrupted nature--the revelation of it 
must proceed from sovereign authority, that the will may comply with 
the mind in the embracement of it. All these are absolutely secured in 
the divine person of the great prophet of the church; His infinite 
wisdom, his infinite goodness, his essential veracity, his sovereign 
authority over all, give the highest assurance whereof a created 
understanding is capable, that nothing is detained from us--that there 
is no possibility of error or mistake in what is declared unto us, nor 
any pretence left of declining obedience unto the commands of the 
truth that we do receive. This gives the soul assured rest and peace 
in the belief of things which "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor 
can enter into the heart of man to conceive." Upon the assurance of 
this truth alone can it with joy prefer things invisible and eternal 
above all present satisfactions and desires. In the persuasion hereof 
can it forego the best of present enjoyments, and undergo the worst of 
present evils; namely, in the experience of its present efficacy, and 
choice of that future recompense which it does secure. And he believes 
not the Gospel unto his own advantage, or the glory of God, whose 
faith rests not in the divine person of Jesus Christ, the great 
prophet of the church. And he who there finds rest unto his soul, 
dares not admit of any copartners with him as to instruction in the 
mind of God. 
 3dly, It was requisite unto the office of this great prophet of the 
church, and the discharge thereof, that he should have power and 
authority to send the Holy Spirit to make his revelations of divine 
truth effectual unto the minds of men. For the church which he was to 
instruct, was not only in darkness, by reason of ignorance and want of 
objective light or divine revelations, but was incapacitated to 
receive spiritual things in a due manner when revealed. Wherefore, it 
was the work of this prophet, not only to make known and declare the 
doctrines of truth, which are our external directive light, but also 
to irradiate and illuminate our minds, so that we might savingly 
apprehend them. And it is no wonder if those who are otherwise minded, 
who suppose themselves able to receive spiritual things, the things of 
God, in a due manner, upon their external proposal unto them, are 
regardless of the divine person of Christ as the prophet of the 
church. But hereon they will never have experience of the life and 
power of the doctrine of the Gospel, if the apostle is to be believed, 
1 Cor. 2: 9-12. Now, this internal illumination of the minds of men 
unto the acknowledgment of the truth can be wrought in them only by 
the Holy Spirit of God, Eph. 1: 17-19; 2 Cor. 3: 18. None, therefore, 
could be the prophet of the church, but he who had the power to send 
the Holy Spirit to enable it to receive his doctrine by the saving 
illumination of the minds of men. And this alone he could do, whose 
Spirit he is, proceeding from him; whom he therefore frequently 
promised so to send. 
 Without a respect unto these things, we cannot really be made 
partakers of the saving benefits and fruits of the prophetical office 
of Christ. And this we can have only in the exercise of faith on his 
divine person, which is the eternal spring from whence this office 
derives all life and efficacy. 
 The command of God, in respect unto him as the prophet of the church, 
is, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him." 
Unless we actually regard him by faith as the only begotten Son of 
God, we can perform no duty aright in the hearing of him, nor shall we 
learn the truth as we ought. Hence it is that those who deny his 
divine person, though they pretend to attend unto him as the teacher 
of the church, do yet learn no truth from him, but embrace pernicious 
errors in the stead thereof. So it is with the Socinians, and all that 
follow them. For whereas they scarcely own any other office of Christ 
but his prophetical--looking on him as a man sent to teach the mind of 
God, and to confine his doctrine by his sufferings, whereon he was 
afterward highly exalted of God--they learn nothing from him in a due 
 But this respect unto the person of Christ is that which will 
ingenerate in us all those holy qualifications that are necessary to 
enable us to know the mind and will of God. For hence do reverence, 
humility, faith, delight, and assurance, arise and flow; without whose 
continual exercise, in vain shall men hope to learn the will of God by 
the utmost of their endeavours. And the want of these things is the 
cause of much of that lifeless unsanctified knowledge of the doctrine 
of the Gospel which is amongst many. They learn not the truth from 
Christ, so as to expect all teachings from his divine power. Hence 
they never come to know it, either in its native beauty drawing the 
soul into the love and delight of what they know, or in its 
transforming efficacy changing the mind into its own image and 
 (2.) The same also is the state of things with respect unto his 
kingly office and power. But this I have at large treated on 
elsewhere, and that much unto the same purpose; namely, in the 
exposition of the 3d verse of the 1st chapter of the Epistle unto the 
Hebrews. Wherefore I shall not here enlarge upon it. 
 Some seem to imagine, that the kingly power of Christ towards the 
church consists only in external rule by the Gospel and the laws 
thereof, requiring obedience unto the officers and rulers that he has 
appointed therein. It is true, that this also belongs unto his kingly 
power and rule; but to suppose that it consisteth solely therein, is 
an ebullition from the poisonous fountain of the denial of his divine 
person. For if he be not God over all, whatever in words may be 
pretended or ascribed unto him, he is capable of no other rule or 
power. But indeed no one act of his kingly office can be aright 
conceived or acknowledged, without a respect had unto his divine 
person. I shall instance only unto this purpose in two things in 
 [1.] The extent of his power and rule gives evidence hereunto. It is 
over the whole creation of God. "All power is given him in heaven and 
earth." Matt. 28: 18. "A11 things are put under his feet, he only 
excepted who put all things under him," 1 Cor. 15: 27; and he is made 
"head over all things unto the church," Eph. 1: 22. Not only those who 
are above the rule of external law, as the holy angels; and those who 
have cast off all such rule, as the devils themselves; but all things 
that in their own nature are not capable of obedience to an external 
law or rule, as the whole inanimate creation, heaven, and earth, and 
the sea, with all things in them and under them, (Phil. 2: 10,) with 
the dead bodies of men, which he shall raise at the last day. 
 For this power over the whole creation is not only a moral right to 
rule and govern it; but it is also accompanied with virtue, force, or 
almighty power, to act, order, and dispose of it at his pleasure. So 
is it described by the apostle from the Psalmist, Heb. 1: 10-12, 
"Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; 
and the heavens are the works of thine hands: they shall perish, but 
thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as does a garment; and as a 
vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou 
art the same, and thy years shall not fail." That power is required 
unto his kingly office whereby he created all things in the beginning, 
and shall change them all, as a man folds up a vesture, in the end. 
Omnipotence, accompanied with eternity and immutability, are required 
 It is a vain imagination, to suppose that this power can reside in a 
mere creature, however glorified and exalted. All essential divine 
properties are concurrent with it, and inseparable from it. And where 
are the properties of God, there is the nature of God; for his being 
and his properties are one and the same. 
 If the Lord Christ, as king of the church, be only a mere man, and be 
as such only to be considered, however he may be exalted and glorified- 
-however he may be endowed with honour, dignity, and authority--yet he 
cannot put forth or act any real physical power immediately and 
directly, but where he is present. But this is in heaven only; for the 
heaven must receive him "until the times of the restitution of all 
things," Acts 3: 21. And hereon his rule and power would be the 
greatest disadvantage unto the church that could befall it. For 
suppose it immediately under the rule of God, even the Father; his 
omnipotence and omnipresence, his omniscience and infinite wisdom-- 
whereby he could be always present with every one of them, know all 
their wants, and give immediate relief according to the counsel of his 
will--were a stable foundation for faith to rest upon, and an 
everlasting spring of consolation. But now, whereas all power, all 
judgment, all rule, is committed unto the Son, and the Father does 
nothing towards the church but in and by him, if he have not the same 
divine power and properties with him, the foundation of the church's 
faith is cast down, and the spring of its consolation utterly stopped 
 I cannot believe in him as my heavenly king, who is not able by 
himself, and by the virtue of his presence with me, to make what 
changes and alterations he pleaseth in the minds of men, and in the 
whole creation of God, to relieve, preserve, and deliver me, and to 
raise my body at the last day. 
 To suppose that the Lord Christ, as the king and head of the church, 
has not an infinite, divine power, whereby he is able always to 
relieve, succour, save, and deliver it--if it were to be done by the 
alteration of the whole or any part of God's creation, so as that the 
fire should not burn, nor the water overwhelm them, nor men be able to 
retain their thoughts or ability one moment to afflict them; and that 
their distresses are not always effects of his wisdom, and never from 
the defect of his power--is utterly to overthrow all faith, hope, and 
the whole of religion itself. 
 Ascribe therefore unto the Lord Christ, in the exercise of his kingly 
office, one a moral power, operative by rules and laws, with the help 
of external instruments--deprive him of omnipresence and omniscience, 
with infinite, divine power and virtue, to be acted at his pleasure in 
and over the whole creation--and you rase the foundation of all 
Christian faith and hope to the ground. 
 There are no true believers who will part with their faith herein for 
the whole world; namely, that the Lord Jesus Christ is able, by his 
divine power and presence, immediately to aid, assist, relieve, and 
deliver them in every moment of their surprisals, fears, and dangers, 
in every trial or duty they may be called unto, in every difficulty 
they have to conflict withal. And to expect these things any otherwise 
but by virtue of his divine nature, is woefully to deceive our own 
souls. For this is the work of God. 
 [2.] The rule of Christ, as king of the church, is internal and 
spiritual, over the minds, souls, and consciences of all that do 
believe. There is no one gracious acting of soul in any one believer, 
at any time in the whole world, either in opposition unto sin or the 
performance of duty, but it is influenced and under the guidance of 
the kingly power of Christ. I suppose we have herein not only the 
common faith, but also the common spiritual sense and experience, of 
them all. They know that in their spiritual life it is he that liveth 
in them as the efficient cause of all its acts and that without him 
they can do nothing. Unto him they have respect in every the most 
secret and retired acting of grace, not only performed as under his 
eye, but by his assistance; on every occasion do they immediately, in 
the internal acting of their minds, look unto him, as one more present 
with their souls than they are with themselves; and have no thoughts 
of the least distance of his knowledge or power. And two things are 
required hereto. 
 1st, That he be "kardiognoostes"--that he have an actual inspection 
into all the frames, dispositions, thoughts, and internal acting, of 
all believers in the whole world, at all times, and every moment. 
Without this, he cannot bear that rule in their souls and consciences 
which we have described, nor can they act faith in him, as their 
occasions do require. No man can live by faith on Christ, no man can 
depend on his sovereign power, who is not persuaded that all the 
frames of his heart, all the secret groans and sighs of his spirit, 
all the inward labourings of his soul against sin, and after 
conformity to himself, are continually under his eye and cognizance. 
Wherefore it is said, that all things are naked and opened unto his 
eyes, Heb. 4: 13. And he says of himself, that he "searcheth" (that 
is, knoweth) "the hearts and reins of men," Rev. 2: 23. And if these 
things are not the peculiar properties of the divine nature, I know 
nothing that may be so esteemed. 
 2dly, There is required hereunto an influence of power into all the 
acting of the souls of believers;--all intimate, efficacious operation 
with them in every duty, and under every temptation. These all of them 
do look for, expect, and receive from him, as the king and head of the 
church. This also is an effect of divine and infinite power. And to 
deny these things unto the Lord Christ, is to rase the foundation of 
Christian religion. Neither faith in, nor love unto him, nor 
dependence on him, nor obedience unto his authority, can be preserved 
one moment, without a persuasion of his immediate intuition and 
inspection into the hearts, minds, and thoughts of all men, with a 
real influence into all the acting of the life of God in all them that 
believe. And the want of the faith hereof is that which has disjoined 
the minds of many from adherence unto him, and has produced a lifeless 
carcass of the Christian religion, instead of the saving power thereof 
 (3.) The same may be said concerning his sacerdotal office, and all 
the acts of it. It was in and by the human nature that he offered 
himself a sacrifice for us. He had somewhat of his own to offer, Heb. 
8: 3; and to this end a body was prepared for him, chap. 10: 5. But it 
was not the work of a man, by one offering, and that of himself, to 
expiate the sins of the whole church, and forever to perfect them that 
are sanctified, which he did, Heb. 10: 14. God was to purchase his 
church "with his own blood," Acts 20: 28. But this also I have spoken 
to at large elsewhere. 
 This is the sum of what we plead for: We can have no due 
consideration of the offices of Christ, can receive no benefit by 
them, nor perform any act of duty with respect unto them, or any of 
them, unless faith in his divine person be actually exercised as the 
foundation of the whole. For that is it whence all their glory, power, 
and efficacy are derived. Whatever, therefore, we do with respect unto 
his rule, whatever we receive by the communication of his Spirit and 
grace, whatever we learn from his Word by the teachings of his Spirit, 
whatever benefit we believe, expect, and receive, by his sacrifice and 
intercession on our behalf; our faith in them all, and concerning them 
all, is terminated on his divine person. The church is saved by his 
offices, because they are his. This is the substance of the testimony 
given concerning him, by God, even the Father, 1 John 5: 10, 11. "This 
is the record" that God has testified concerning his Son, "that God 
has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." Eternal 
life is given unto us, as it was wrought out and procured by the 
mediation of Christ on our behalf. But yet in him it was originally, 
and from him do we receive it in the discharge of his office; for this 
life is in the Son of God. 
 Hence it is that all those by whom the divine person of Christ is 
denied, are forced to give such a description of his offices, as that 
it is utterly impossible that the church should be saved by the 
discharge of them. 

John Owen, Christologia

(continued in Part 8...)

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