(Owen, Christologia, Part 9)

Chapter IX. Honour due to the Person of Christ--The nature and Causes 
of it 
Many other considerations of the same nature with those foregoing, 
relating unto the glory and honour of the person of Christ, may be 
taken from all the fundamental principles of religion. And our duty it 
is in them all, to "consider the Apostle and High Priest of our 
profession"--"the Author and Finisher of our faith". I shall not 
insist on more, but proceed unto those principles of truth which are 
immediately directive of our duty towards him; without diligent 
attendance whereunto, we do but in vain bear the name of Christians. 
And the substance of what is designed may be included in the following 
 "The glory, life, and power of Christian religion, as Christian 
religion, and as seated in the souls of men, with all the acts and 
duties which properly belong thereunto, and are, therefore, peculiarly 
Christian, and all the benefits and privileges we receive by it, or by 
virtue of it, with the whole of the honour and glory that arise unto 
God thereby, have all of them their formal nature and reason from 
their respect and relation unto the person of Christ; nor is he a 
Christian who is otherwise minded." 
 In the confirmation hereof it will appear what judgment ought to be 
passed on that inquiry--which, after the uninterrupted profession of 
the catholic church for so many ages of a faith unto the contrary, is 
begun to be made by some amongst us--namely, Of what use is the person 
of Christ in religion? For it proceeds on this supposition, and is 
determined accordingly--that there is something in religion wherein 
the person of Christ is of no use at all;--a vain imagination, and 
such as is destructive unto the whole real intercourse between God and 
man, by the one and only Mediator! 
 The respect which we have in all acts of religion unto the person of 
Christ may be reduced unto these four heads: I. Honour. II. Obedience. 
III. Conformity. IV. The use we make of him, for the attaining and 
receiving of all Gospel privileges-- all grace and glory. And hereunto 
the whole of our religion, as it is Christian or evangelical, may be 
 I. The person of Christ is the object of divine honour and worship. 
The formal object and reason hereof is the divine nature, and its 
essential infinite excellencies. For they are nothing but that respect 
unto the Divine Being which is due unto it from all rational 
creatures, regulated by revelation, and enforced by divine operations. 
Wherefore the person of Christ is primarily the object of divine 
honour and worships upon the account of his divine nature and 
excellencies. And those who, denying that nature in him, do yet 
pretend to worship him with divine and religious adoration, do but 
worship a golden calf of their own setting up; for a Christ who is not 
over all, God blessed forever, is not better. And it implies a 
contradiction, that any creature should, on any accounts be the 
immediate, proper object of divine worship; unless the divine 
essential excellencies be communicated unto it, or transfused into it, 
whereby it would cease to be a creature. For that worship is nothing 
but the ascription of divine excellencies unto what is so worshipped. 
 But we now consider the Lord Christ in his whole entire person, the 
Son of God incarnate, "God manifest in the flesh." His infinite 
condescension, in the assumption of our nature, did no way divest him 
of his divine essential excellencies. For a time, they were shadowed 
and veiled thereby from the eyes of men; when "he made himself of no 
reputation, and took on him the form of a servant." But he eternally 
and unchangeably continued" in the form of God," and "thought it not 
robbery to be equal with God," Phil. 2: 6, 7. He can no more really 
and essentially, by any act of condescension or humiliation, cease to 
be God, than God can cease to be. Wherefore, his being clothed with 
our nature derogates nothing from the true reason of divine worship 
due unto him, but adds an effectual motive unto it. He is, therefore, 
the immediate object of all duties of religion, internal and external; 
and in the dispensation of God towards us, none of them can be 
performed in a due manner without a respect unto him. 
 This, then, in the first place, is to be confirmed; namely, that all 
divine honour is due unto the Son of God incarnate--that is, the 
person of Christ. 
 John 5: 23: It is the will of the Father, "That all men should honour 
the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the 
Son, honoureth not the Father which has sent him." Some considerations 
on this divine testimony will confirm our position. It is of the Son 
incarnate that the words are spoken--as all judgment was committed 
unto him by the Father, as he was "sent" by him, verse 22--that is, of 
the whole person of Christ in the exercise of his mediatory office. 
And with respect hereunto it is that the mind of God is peculiarly 
revealed. The way whereby God manifesteth his will, that all men 
should thus honour the Son, as they honour the Father, is by 
committing all power, authority, and judgment unto him, verses 20-22, 
"For the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that 
himself does: and he will show him greater works than these, that ye 
may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth 
them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth 
no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son." Not that these 
things are the formal reason and cause of the divine honour which is 
to be given him; but they are reasons of it, and motives unto it, in 
that they are evidences of his being the Son of God. 
 But it may be said, What need is there that the Father should so 
interpose an act of his will and sovereign pleasure as to this 
honouring of the Son, seeing the sole cause and reason of this divine 
honour is the divine nature, which the Son is no less partaker of than 
the Father? I answer-- 
 (1.) He does not in this command intend the honour and worship of 
Christ absolutely as God, but distinctly as the Son; which peculiar 
worship was not known under the Old Testament, but was now declared 
necessary in the committing all power, authority, and judgment unto 
him. This is the honour whereof we speak. 
 (2.) He does it, lest any should conceive that "as he was now sent of 
the Father," and that in the "form of a servant," this honour should 
not be due unto him. And the world was then far from thinking that it 
was so; and many, I fear, are yet of the same mind. 
 He is, therefore, to be honoured by us, according to the will of God, 
"kathoos", "in like manner," as we honour the Father. 
 [1.] With the same honour; that is, divine, sacred, religious, and 
supreme. To honour the Father with other honour, is to dishonour him. 
When men design to give glory and honour to God which is not truly 
divine, it is idolatry; for this honour, in truth, is nothing but the 
ascription of all infinite, divine excellencies unto him. Whereon, 
when men ascribe unto him that which is not so, they fall into 
idolatry, by the worship of their own imaginations. So was it with the 
Israelites, when they thought to have given glory to God by making a 
golden calf, whereon they proclaimed a feast unto Jehovah, Exod. 32: 
5. And so was it with the heathen in all their images of God, and the 
glory which they designed to give him thereby, as the apostle 
declares, Rom. 1: 23-25. This is one kind of idolatry--as the other is 
the ascribing unto creatures anything that is proper and peculiar unto 
God, any divine excellency. And we do not honour God the Father with 
one kind of honour, and the Son with another. That were not to honour 
the Son "kathoos", "as" we honour the Father, but in a way infinitely 
different from it. 
 [2.] In the same manner, with the same faith, love, reverence, and 
obedience, always, in all things, in all acts and duties of religion 
 This distinct honour is to be given unto the person of the Son by 
virtue of this command of the Father, though originally on the account 
of his oneness in nature with the Father. And our duty herein is 
pressed with the highest enforcement; he that honours not the Son, 
honours not the Father. He who denieth the Son (herein) "has not the 
Father; [but he that acknowledgeth the Son, has the Father also,]" 1 
John 2: 23. "And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal 
life; and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son, has life; and 
he that has not the Son of God has not life," chap. 5: 11, 12. If we 
are wanting herein, whatever we pretend, we do not worship nor honour 
God at all. 
 And there is reason to give this caution--reason to fear that this 
great fundamental principle of our religion is, if not disbelieved, 
yet not much attended unto in the world. Many, who profess a respect 
unto the Divine Being and the worship thereof, seem to have little 
regard unto the person of the Son in all their religion; for although 
they may admit of a customary interposition of his name in their 
religious worship, yet the same distinct veneration of him as of the 
Father, they seem not to understand, or to be exercised in. Howbeit, 
all the acceptance of our persons and duties with God depends on this 
one conditions--"That we honour the Son, even as we honour the 
Father." To honour the Son as we ought to honour the Father, is that 
which makes us Christians, and which nothing else will so do. 
 This honour of the person of Christ may be considered--in the duties 
of it, wherein it does consist; and in the principle, life, or spring, 
of those duties. 
 The duties whereby we ascribe and express divine honour unto Christ 
may be reduced unto two heads, 1st, Adoration; 2dly, Invocation. 
 1st, Adoration is the prostration of soul before him as God, in the 
acknowledgment of his divine excellencies and the ascription of them 
unto him. It is expressed in the Old Testament by "hishtachawah"; that 
is, humbly to bow down ourselves or our souls unto God. The LXX render 
it constantly by "proskuneoo"; which is the word used in the New 
Testament unto the same purpose. The Latins expressed it usually by 
adoro. And these words, though of other derivations, are of the same 
signification with that in the Hebrew; and they do all of them include 
some external sign of inward reverence, or a readiness thereunto. 
Hence is that expression, "He bowed down his head and worshipped," 
[Gen. 24: 26;] see [also] Ps. 95: 6. And these external signs are of 
two sorts (1st,) Such as are natural and occasional; (2dly,) Such as 
are solemn, stated, or instituted. Of the first sort are the lifting 
up of our eyes and hands towards heaven upon our thoughts of him, and 
sometimes the casting down of our whole persons before him; which deep 
thoughts with reverence will produce. Outward instituted signs of this 
internal adoration are all the ordinances of evangelical worship. In 
and by them do we solemnly profess and express our inward veneration 
of him. Other ways may be invented to the same purpose, but the 
Scripture knows them not, yea, condemns them. Such are the veneration 
and adoration of the pretended images of him, and of the Host, as they 
call it, among the Papists. 
 This adoration is due continually to the person of Christ, and that-- 
as in the exercise of the office of mediation. It is due unto him from 
the whole rational creation of God. So is it given in charge unto the 
angels above. For when he brought the First-begotten into the world, 
he said, "Proskunesatoosan autou pantes angeloi Theou"; that is, 
"hishtachawu-lo kol-elohim", "Worship him, all ye gods," Ps. 97: 7. 
"Let all the angels of God worship him," adore him, bow down before 
him, Heb. 1: 6. See our exposition of that place;--the design of the 
whole chapter being to express the divine honour that is due unto the 
person of Christ, with the grounds thereof. This is the command given 
also unto the church, "He is thy Lord, and worship thou him," Ps. 45: 
 A glorious representation hereof--whether in the church above, or in 
that militant here on the earth--is given us, Rev. 5: 6-14, "And I 
beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beast, and 
in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having 
seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent 
forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the 
right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the 
book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the 
Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, 
which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, 
Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for 
thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of 
every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us 
unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I 
beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, 
and the beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten 
thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a 
loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and 
riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the 
earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I 
saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that 
sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. And the 
four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and 
worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever." 
 The especial object of divine adoration, the motives unto it, and the 
nature of it, or what it consisteth in, are here declared. 
 The object of it is Christ, not separately, but distinctly from the 
Father, and jointly with him. And he is proposed, 1st, As having 
fulfilled the work of his mediation in his incarnation and oblation-- 
as a Lamb slain. 2dly, In his glorious exaltation--"in the midst of 
the throne of God". The principal thing that the heathen of old 
observed concerning the Christian religion, was, that in it "praises 
were sung to Christ as unto God." 
 The motives unto this adoration are the unspeakable benefits which we 
receive by his mediation, "Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and 
hast redeemed us unto God," &c. 
 Hereon the same glory, the same honour, is ascribed unto him as unto 
God the Father: "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto 
him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and 
 The nature of this adoration is described to consist in three things. 
1st, Solemn prostration: "And the four living creatures said, Amen. 
And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that 
liveth for ever and ever." So also is it described, chap. 4: 10,11. 
2dly, In the ascription of all divine honour and glory, as is at large 
expressed, chap. 5: 11-13. 3dly, In the way of expressing the design 
of their souls in this adoration, which is by the praises: "They sung 
a new song"--that is, of praise; for so are all those psalms which 
have that title of a new song. And in these things--namely, solemn 
prostration of soul in the acknowledgment of divine excellencies, 
ascriptions of glory and honour with praise--does religious adoration 
consist. And they belong not unto the great holy society of them who 
worship above and here below--whose hearts are not always ready unto 
this solemn adoration of the Lamb, and who are not on all occasions 
exercised therein. 
 And this adoration of Christ does differ from the adoration of God, 
absolutely considered, and of God as the Father, not in its nature, 
but merely on the account of its especial motives. The principal 
motive unto the adoration of God, absolutely considered, is the work 
of creation--the manifestation of his glory therein--with all the 
effects of his power and goodness thereon ensuing. So it is declared, 
chap. 4: 11, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, 
and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they 
are and were created." And the principal motive unto the adoration and 
worship of God as the Father, is that eternal love, grace, and 
goodness, which he is the fountain of in a peculiar manner, Eph. 1: 4, 
5. But the great motive unto the adoration of Christ is the work of 
redemption, Rev. 5: 12, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive 
power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, 
and blessing." The reason whereof is given, verses 9, 10, "For thou 
wast slain, and hast redeemed us unto God by thy blood; and made us 
unto our God kings and priests." The adoration is the same, verse 13, 
"Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth 
upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever." But the 
immediate motives of it are different, as its objects are distinct. 
 Herein no small part of the life of the Christian religion does 
consist. The humbling of our souls before the Lord Christ, from an 
apprehension of his divine excellencies--the ascription of glory, 
honour, praise, with thanksgiving unto him, on the great motive of the 
work of redemption with the blessed effects thereof--are things 
wherein the life of faith is continually exercised; nor can we have 
any evidence of an interest in that blessedness which consists in the 
eternal assignation of all glory and praise unto him in heaven, if we 
are not exercised unto this worship of him here on earth. 
 2dly, Invocation is the second general branch of divine honour--of 
that honour which is due and paid unto the Son, as unto the Father. 
This is the first exercise of divine faith--the breath of the 
spiritual life. And it consisteth in two things, or has two parts. 
(1st,) An ascription of all divine properties and excellencies unto 
him whom we invocate. This is essential unto prayer, which without it 
is but vain babbling. Whoever comes unto God hereby, "must believe 
that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek 
him." (2dly,) There is in it also a representation of our wills, 
affections, and desires of our souls, unto him on whom we call, with 
an expectation of being heard and relieved, by virtue of his 
infinitely divine excellencies. This is the proper acting of faith 
with respect unto ourselves; and hereby it is our duty to give honour 
unto the person of Christ. 
 When he himself died in the flesh, he committed his departing soul by 
solemn invocation into the hands of his Father, Ps. 31:5; Luke 23: 46, 
"Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit." And to evidence that it 
is the will of God that we should honour the Son, as we honour the 
Father, even as the Son himself in his human nature, who is our 
example, honoured the Father--he who first died in the faith of the 
Gospel, bequeathed his departing soul into the hands of Jesus Christ 
by solemn invocation, Acts 7: 59, "They stoned Stephen, 
"epikaloumenon", solemnly invocating, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive 
my spirit." And having by faith and prayer left his own soul safe in 
the hands of the Lord Jesus, he adds one petition more unto him, 
wherewith he died: "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge," verse 60. 
Herein did he give divine honour unto Christ in the especial 
invocation of his name, in the highest instances that can be 
conceived. In his first request, wherein he committed his departing 
soul into his hands, he ascribed unto him divine omniscience, 
omnipresence, love, and power; and in the latter, for his enemies, 
divine authority and mercy, to be exercised in the pardon of sin. In 
his example is the rule established for the especial invocation of 
Christ for the effects of divine power and mercy. 
 Hence the apostle describeth the church, or believers, and 
distinguisheth it, or them, from all others, by the charge of this 
duty, 1 Cor. 1: 2, "With all that call on the name of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, both their Lord and ours." To call on the name of the Lord 
Jesus expresseth solemn invocation in the way of religious worship. 
The Jews did call on the name of God. All others in their way called 
on the names of their gods. This is that whereby the church is 
distinguished from them all--it calls on the Name of our Lord Jesus 
 He requires that, as we believe on God, that is, the Father, so we 
should believe on him also; and therein honour the Son, as we honour 
the Father, John 14: 1. The nature of this faith, and the manner how 
it is exercised on Christ, we shall declare afterwards. But the 
apostle, treating of the nature and efficacy of this invocation, 
affirms, that we cannot call on him in whom we have not believed, Rom. 
10: 14. Whence it follows, on the contrary, that he on whom we are 
bound to believe, on him it is our duty to call. So the whole 
Scripture is closed with a prayer of the church unto the Lord Christ, 
expressing their faith in him: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus," Rev. 22: 
 There is not any one reason of prayer--not any one motive unto it-- 
not any consideration of its use or efficacy--but renders this 
peculiar invocation of Christ a necessary duty. Two things in general 
are required to render the duty of invocation lawful and useful. 
First, That it have a proper object. Secondly, That it have prevalent 
motives and encouragements unto it. These in concurrence are the 
formal reason and ground of all religious worship in general, and of 
prayer in particular. So are they laid down as the foundation of all 
religion, Exod. 20: 2, 3, "I am the Lord thy God"--that is, the proper 
object of all religious worship--"which brought thee out of the land 
of Egypt, out of the house of bondage;" which being summarily and 
typically representative of all divine benefits, temporal, spiritual, 
and eternal, is the great motive thereunto. The want of both these in 
all mere creatures, saints and angels, makes the invocation of them, 
not only useless, but idolatrous. But they both eminently concur in 
the person of Christ, and his acting towards us. All the perfections 
of the divine nature are in him; whence he is the proper object of 
religious invocation. On this account when he acted in and towards the 
church as the great angel of the covenant, God instructed the people 
unto all religious observance of him, and obedience unto him, Exod.23: 
21, "Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will 
not pardon your transgressions; for my name is in him." Because the 
name of God was in him--that is, the divine nature, with sovereign 
authority to punish or pardon sin--therefore was all religious 
obedience due unto him. And no motives are wanting hereunto. All that 
the Lord Christ has done for us, and all the principles of love, 
grace, compassion, and power, from whence what he has so done did 
proceed, are all of this nature; and they are accompanied with the 
encouragement of his relation unto us, and charge concerning us. Take 
away this duty, and the peculiar advantage of the Christian religion 
is destroyed. 
 We have lived to see the utmost extremes that the Christian religion 
can divert into. Some, with all earnestness, do press the formal 
invocation of saints and angels as our duty; and some will not grant 
that it is lawful for us so to call on Christ himself. 
 The Socinians grant generally that it is lawful for us to call on 
Christ; but they deny that it is our duty at any time so to do. But as 
they own that it is not our duty, so on their principles it cannot be 
lawful. Denying his divine person, they leave him not the proper 
object of prayer. For prayer without an ascription of divine 
excellencies--as omniscience, omnipresence, and almighty power--unto 
him whom we invocate, is but vain babbling, that has nothing of the 
nature of true prayer in it; and to make such ascriptions unto him who 
by nature is not God, is idolatrous. 
 The solemn ordinary worship of the church, and so of private 
believers in their families and closets, is under an especial 
directory and guidance. For the person of the Father as the eternal 
fountain of power, grace, and mercy--is the formal object of our 
prayers, unto whom our supplications are directed. The divine nature, 
also lately considered, is the object of natural worship and 
invocation; but it is the same divine nature, in the person of the 
Father, that is the proper object of evangelical worship and 
invocation. So our Saviour has taught us to call on God under the name 
and notion of a father, Matt. 6: 9; that is, his God and our God, his 
Father and our Father, John 20: 17. And this invocation is to be by 
and in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, through the aid of the Holy 
Ghost. He is herein considered as the mediator between God and man--as 
the Holy Ghost is he by whom supplies of grace, enabling us unto the 
acceptable performance of our duties are actually communicated unto 
us. This is the way whereby God will be glorified. This is the mystery 
of our religion, that we worship God according to the economy of his 
wisdom and grace, wherein he does dispense of himself unto us, in the 
persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Otherwise he will not be 
honoured or worshipped by us. And those who in their worship or 
invocation do attempt an approach unto the divine nature as absolutely 
considered, without respect unto the dispensation of God in the 
distinct persons of the holy Trinity, do reject the mystery of the 
Gospel, and all the benefit of it. So is it with many. And not a few, 
who pretend a great devotion unto God, do supply other things into the 
room of Christ, as saints and angels--rejecting also the aids of the 
Spirit to comply with imaginations of their own, whose as distance 
herein they more approve of. 
 But this is the nature and method of ordinary solemn evangelical 
invocation. So it is declared, Eph 2:18, "Through him we have access 
by one Spirit unto the Father." It is the Father unto whom we have our 
access, whom we peculiarly invocate; as it is expressed, chap. 3: 14- 
16, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he 
would grant you," &c. But it is through him--that is, by Christ in the 
exercise of his mediatory office--that we have this access unto the 
Father; we ask in his name, and for his sake, John 14: 13, 14; 16: 23, 
24. They did so of old, though not in that express exercise of faith 
which we now attain unto. Dan. 9: 17, "Hear, O Lord, and have mercy, 
for the Lord's sake in all this are we enabled unto by one Spirit-- 
through the aids and assistance of the Spirit of grace and 
supplication, Rom. 8: 26, 27. So that prayer is our crying--"Abbe, 
Father," by the Spirit of the Son, Gal. 4: 6. This is farther 
declared, Heb. 4: 15, 16; 10: 19-22. Herein is the Lord Christ 
considered, not absolutely with respect unto his divine person, but 
with respect unto his office, that through "him our faith and hope 
might be in God," 1 Peter 1:21. 
 Wherefore, it being our duty, as has been proved, to invocate the 
name of Christ in a particular manner, and this being the ordinary 
solemn way of the worship of the church--we may consider on what 
occasions, and in what seasons, this peculiar invocation of Christ, 
who in his divine person is both our God and our advocate, is 
necessary for us, and most acceptable unto him. 
 (1st,) Times of great distresses in conscience through temptations 
and desertions, are seasons requiring an application unto Christ by 
especial invocation. Persons in such conditions, when their souls, as 
the Psalmist speaks, are overwhelmed in them, are continually 
solicitous about compassion and deliverance. Some relief, some 
refreshment, they often find in pity and compassion from them who 
either have been in the same condition themselves, or by Scripture 
light do know the terror of the Lord in these things. When their 
complaints are despised, and their troubles ascribed unto other causes 
than what they are really sensible of, and feel within themselves--as 
is commonly done by physicians of no value--it is an aggravation of 
their distress and sorrow. And they greatly value every sincere 
endeavour for relief, either by counsel or prayer. In this state and 
condition the Lord Christ in the Gospel is proposed as full of tender 
compassion--as he alone who is able to relieve them. In that himself 
has suffered, being tempted, he is touched with a feeling of our 
infirmities, and knows how to have compassion on them that are out of 
the way, Heb. 2: 18; 4: 15; 5: 2. So is he also, as he alone who is 
able to succour, to relieve, and to deliver them. "He is able to 
succour them that are tempted," chap. 2: 18. Hereon are they drawn, 
constrained, encouraged to make applications unto him by prayer, that 
he would deal with them according to his compassion and power. This is 
a season rendering the discharge of this duty necessary. And hereby 
have innumerable souls found consolation, refreshment, and 
deliverance. A time of trouble is a time of the especial exercise of 
faith in Christ. So himself gives direction, John 14: 1, "Let not your 
heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me." Distinct 
acting of faith on Christ are the great means of supportment and 
relief in trouble. And it is by especial invocation, whereby they put 
forth and exert themselves. 
 An instance hereof, as unto temptation, and the distress wherewith it 
is attended, we have in the apostle Paul. He had "a thorn in the 
flesh," "a messenger of Satan to buffet" him. Both expressions declare 
the deep sense he had of his temptation, and the perplexity wherewith 
it was accompanied. "For this cause he besought the Lord thrice, that 
it might depart from him," 2 Cor. 12: 7, 8. He applied himself 
solemnly unto prayer for its removals and that frequently. And it was 
the Lord--that is, the Lord Jesus Christ--unto whom he made his 
application. For so the name Lord is to be interpreted--if there be 
nothing contrary in the context--as the name of God is of the Father, 
by virtue of that rule, 1 Cor. 8: 6, "To us there is one God, the 
Father; and one Lord Jesus Christ." And it is evident also in the 
context. The answer he received unto his prayer was, "My grace is 
sufficient for thee; for my power [strength] is made perfect in 
weakness". And whose power that was, who gave him that answer, he 
declares in the next words, "Most gladly therefore will I glory in my 
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me," that is, the 
power of him on whom he called, who gave him that answer, "My power is 
made perfect in weakness". 
 (2dly,) Times of gracious discoveries either of the glory of Christ 
in himself, or of his love unto us, are seasons that call for this 
duty. The glory of Christ in his person and offices is always the 
same, and the revelation that is made of it in the Scripture varies 
not; but as unto our perception and apprehension of it, whereby our 
hearts and minds are affected with it in an especial manner--there are 
apparent seasons of it which no believers are unacquainted withal. 
Sometimes such a sense of it is attained under the dispensation of the 
Word; wherein as Christ on the one hand is set forth evidently 
crucified before our eyes, so on the other he is gloriously exalted. 
Sometimes it is so in prayer, in meditation, in contemplation on him. 
As an ability was given unto the bodily sight of Stephen, to see, upon 
the opening of the heavens, "the glory of God, and Jesus standing at 
his right hand," Acts 7: 55, 56--so he opens the veil sometimes, and 
gives a clear, affecting discovery of his glory unto the minds and 
souls of believers; and in such seasons are they drawn forth and 
excited unto invocation and praise. So Thomas--being surprised with an 
apprehension and evidence of his divine glory and power after his 
resurrection, wherein he was declared to be the Son of God with power, 
Rom. 1: 4--cried unto him, "My Lord and my God," John 20: 28. There 
was in his words both a profession of his own faith and a solemn 
invocation of Christ. When, therefore, we have real discoveries of the 
glory of Christ, we cannot but speak to him, or of him. "These things 
said Isaiah, when he saw his glory, and spake of him," John 12: 41. 
And Stephen, upon a view of it in the midst of his enraged enemies, 
testified immediately, "I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man 
standing on the right hand of God." And thereby was he prepared for 
that solemn invocation of his name which he used presently after, 
"Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," Acts 7: 56, 59. And so, also, upon 
his appearance as the Lamb, to open the book of prophecies; wherein 
there was an eminent manifestation of his glory seeing none else could 
be found in heaven, or earth, or under the earth, that was able to 
open the book, or so much as to look thereon," Rev. 5: 3. "The four 
and twenty elders fell down before him," and presenting all the 
prayers of the saints, "sang a new song" of praise unto him, verses 
8-10. This is our duty, this will be our wisdom, upon affecting 
discoveries of the glory of Christ; namely, to apply ourselves unto 
him by invocation or praise; and thereby will the refreshment and 
advantage of them abide upon our minds. 
 So is it also as unto his love. The love of Christ is always the same 
and equal unto the church. Howbeit there are peculiar seasons of the 
manifestation and application of a sense of it unto the souls of 
believers. So it is when it is witnessed unto them, or shed abroad in 
their hearts by the Holy ghost. Then is it accompanied with a 
constraining power, to oblige us to live unto him who died for use and 
rose again, 2 Cor. 5: 14, 15. And of our spiritual life unto Christ, 
invocation of him is no small portion and this sense of his love we 
might enjoy more frequently than for the most part we do, were we not 
so much wanting unto ourselves and our own concerns. For although it 
be an act of sovereign grace in God to grant it unto us, and affect us 
with it, as it seems good unto him, yet is our duty required to 
dispose our hearts unto its reception. Were we diligent in casting out 
all that "filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness" which corrupts 
our affections, and disposes the mind to abound in vain imaginations; 
were our hearts more taken off from the love of the world, which is 
exclusive of a sense of divine love; did we more meditate on Christ 
and his glory;--we should more frequently enjoy these constraining 
visits of his love than now we do. So himself expresseth it, Rev. 3: 
20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, 
and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and 
he with me." He makes intimation of his love and kindness unto us. But 
ofttimes we neither hear his voice when he speaks, nor do open our 
hearts unto him. So do we lose that gracious, refreshing sense of his 
love, which he expresseth in that promise, "I will sup with him, and 
he shall sup with me." No tongue can express that heavenly communion 
and blessed intercourse which is intimated in this promise. The 
expression is metaphorical, but the grace expressed is real, and more 
valued than the whole world by all that have experience of it. This 
sense of the love of Christ and the effect of it in communion with 
him, by prayer and praises, is divinely set forth in the Book of 
canticles. The church therein is represented as the spouse of Christ; 
and, as a faithful spouse, she is always either solicitous about his 
love, or rejoicing in it. And when she has attained a sense of it, she 
aboundeth in invocation admiration and praise. So does the church of 
the New Testament, upon an apprehension of his love, and the 
unspeakable fruits of it: "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from 
our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God 
and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen." 
Rev. 1: 5, 6. This, therefore, is another season that calls for this 
 (3dly;) Times of persecution for his Name's sake, and for the 
profession of the gospel, are another season rendering this peculiar 
invocation of Christ both comely and necessary. Two things will befall 
the minds of believers in such a season;--[1st,] that their thoughts 
will be neatly exercised about him, and conversant with him. They 
cannot but continually think and meditate on him for whom they suffer. 
None ever suffered persecution on just grounds, with sincere ends, and 
in a due manner, but it was so with them. The invincible reasons they 
have to suffer for him--taken from his person love, grace, and 
authority--from what he is in himself, what he has done for them, and 
what account of all things is to be given unto him do continually 
present themselves unto their minds. Wildernesses, prisons, and 
dungeons, have been filled with thoughts of Christ and his love. And 
many in former and latter ages have given an account of their 
communion and holy intercourse with the Lord Christ under their 
restraints and sufferings. And those who at any time have made an 
entrance into such a condition, will all of them give in the testimony 
of their own experience in this matter. [2dly,] Such persons have deep 
and fixed apprehensions of the especial concernment which the Lord 
Christ has in them as unto their present condition--as also of his 
power to support them, or to work out their deliverance. They know and 
consider--that "in all their afflictions he is afflicted"--suffers in 
all their sufferings--is persecuted in all their persecutions; that in 
them all he is full of love, pity, and unspeakable compassion towards 
them; that his grace is sufficient for them--that his power shall be 
perfected in their weakness, to carry them through all their 
sufferings, unto his and their own glory. In these circumstances, it 
is impossible for them who are under the conduct of his Spirit, not to 
make especial applications continually unto him for those aids of 
grace--for those pledges of love and mercy--for those supplies of 
consolation and spiritual refreshments, which their condition calls 
for. Wherefore, in this state, the invocation of Christ is the refuge 
and sheet-anchor of the souls of them who truly believe in him. So it 
was unto all the holy martyrs of old, and in latter ages. 
 This doctrine and duty is not for them who are at ease. The 
afflicted, the tempted, the persecuted, the spiritually disconsolate, 
will prize it, and be found in the practice of it. And all those holy 
souls who, in most ages, on the account of the profession of the 
gospel, have been reduced unto outwardly unbelievable distresses, 
have, as was said, left their testimony unto this duty, and the 
benefits of it. The refreshment which they found therein was a 
sufficient balance against the weight of all outward calamities, 
enabling them to rejoice under them with "joy unspeakable and full of 
glory." This is the church's reserve against all the trials it may be 
exercised withal, and all the dangers whereunto it is exposed. Whilst 
believers have liberty of access unto him in their supplications, who 
has all power in his hand, who is full of ineffable love and 
compassion towards them, especially as suffering for his sake--they 
are more than conquerors in all their tribulations. 
 (4thly,) When we have a due apprehension of the eminent acting of any 
grace in Christ Jesus, and withal a deep and abiding sense of our own 
want of the same grace, it is a season of especial application unto 
him by prayer for the increase of it. All graces as unto their habit 
were equal in Christ--they were all in him in the highest degree of 
perfection; and every one of them did he exercise in its due manner 
and measure on all just occasions. But outward causes and 
circumstances gave opportunity unto the exercise of some of them in a 
way more eminent and conspicuous than others were exercised in. For 
instance;--such were his unspeakable condescension, self-denial, and 
patience in sufferings; which the apostle unto this purpose insists 
upon, Phil. 2: 5-8. Now the great design of all believers is to be 
like Jesus Christ, in all grace, and all the exercise of it. He is in 
all things their pattern and example. Wherefore, when they have a view 
of the glory of any grace as it was exercised in Christ, and withal a 
sense of their own defect and want therein--conformity unto him being 
their design--they cannot but apply themselves unto him in solemn 
invocation, for a farther communication of that grace unto them, from 
his stores and fulness. And these things mutually promote one another 
in us, if duly attended unto. A due sense of our own defect in any 
grace will farther us in the prospect of the glory of that grace in 
Christ. And a view, a due contemplation, of the glorious exercise of 
any grace in him, will give us light to discover our own great defect 
therein, and want thereof. Under a sense of both, an immediate. 
application unto Christ by prayer would be all unspeakable furtherance 
of our growth in grace and conformity unto him. Nor can there be any 
more effectual way or means to draw supplies of grace from him, to 
draw water from the wells of salvation. When, in a holy admiration of, 
and fervent love unto, any grace as eminently exercised in and by him, 
with a sense of our own want of the same grace, we ask it of him in 
faith--he will not deny it unto us. So the disciples, upon the 
prescription of a difficult duty, unto whose due performance a good 
measure of faith was required--out of a sense of the all-fulness of 
him, and their own defect in that grace which was necessary unto the 
peculiar duty there prescribed--immediately pray unto him, saying, 
"Lord, increase our faith," Luke 17: 6. The same is the case with 
respect unto any temptation that may befall us, wherewith he was 
exercised, and over which he prevailed. 
 (5thly,) The time of death, whether natural, or violent for his sake, 
is a season of the same nature. So Stephen recommended his departing 
soul into his hands with solemn prayer. "Lord Jesus," said he, 
"receive my spirit." To the same purpose have been the prayers of many 
of his faithful martyrs in the flames, and under the sword. In the 
same manner does the faith of innumerable holy souls work in the midst 
of their deathbed groans. And the more we have been in the exercise of 
faith on him in our lives, the more ready will it be in the approaches 
of death, to make its reset unto him in a peculiar manner. 
 And it may be other instances of an alike nature may be given unto 
the same purpose. 
 An answer unto an inquiry which may possibly arise from what we have 
insisted on, shall close this discourse. For whereas the Lord Jesus 
Christ, as Mediator, does intercede with the Father for us, it may be 
inquired, Whether we may pray unto him, that he would so intercede on 
our behalf; whether this be comprised in the duty of invocation or 
prayer unto him? 
 Ans. 1. There is no precedent nor example of any such thing, of any 
such prayer, in the Scripture; and it is not safe for us to venture on 
duties not exemplified therein. Nor can any instance of a necessary 
duty be given, of whose performance we have not an example in the 
Scripture. 2. In the invocation of Christ, we "honour the Son, even as 
we honour the Father." Wherefore his divine person is therein the 
formal object of our faith. We consider him not therein as acting in 
his mediatory office towards God for us, but as he who has the 
absolute power and disposal of all the good things we pray for. And in 
our invocation of him, our faith is fixed on, and terminated on his 
person. But as he is in the discharge of his mediatory office--through 
him "our faith and hope are in God," 1 Peter 1: 21. He who is the 
Mediator, or Jesus Christ the Mediator--as God and man in one person-- 
is the object of all divine honour and worship. His person, and both 
his natures in that person, is so the object of religious worship. 
This is that which we are in the proof and demonstration of. Howbeit 
it is his divine nature, and not his discharge of the office of 
mediation, that is the formal reason and object of divine worship. For 
it consists in an ascription of infinitely divine excellencies and 
properties unto him whom we so worship. And to do this on any account 
but of the divine nature, is in itself a contradiction, and in them 
that do it idolatry. Had the Son of God never been incarnate, he had 
been the object of all divine worship. And could there have been a 
mediator between God and us who was not God also, he could never have 
been the object of any divine worship or invocation. Wherefore Christ 
the Mediator, God and man in one person, is in all things to be 
honoured, even as we honour the Father; but it is as he is God, equal 
with the Father, and not as Mediator--in which respect he is inferior 
unto him. With respect unto his divine person, we ask immediately of 
himself in our supplications,--as he is Mediator--we ask of the Father 
in his name. The different actings of faith on him, under the same 
distinction shall be declared in the next chapter.

John Owen, Christologia

(continued in Part 10...)

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