(Owen, Christologia, Part 13)

Chapter XIII. The Nature, Operations, and Causes of Divine Love, as it 
respects the Person of Christ 
That we may the better understand that love unto the person of Christ 
which we plead for, some things must be premised concerning the nature 
of divine love in general; and thereon its application unto the 
particular acting and exercise of it which we inquire into will be 
plain and easy. 
 God has endowed our nature with a faculty and ability of fixing our 
love upon himself. Many can understand nothing of love but the 
adherence of their minds and souls unto things visible and sensible, 
capable of a present natural enjoyment. For things unseen, especially 
such as are eternal and infinite, they suppose they have a veneration, 
a religious respect, a devout adoration; but how they should love 
them, they cannot understand. And the apostle does grant that there is 
a greater difficulty in loving things that cannot be seen, than in 
loving those which are always visibly present unto us, 1 John 4: 20. 
Howbeit, this divine love has a more fixed station and prevalence in 
the minds of men than any other kind of love whatever. For-- 
 1. The principal end why God endued our natures with that great and 
ruling affection, that has the most eminent and peculiar power and 
interest in our souls, was, in the first place, that it might be fixed 
on himself--that it might be the instrument of our adherence unto him. 
He did not create this affection in us, that we might be able by it to 
cast ourselves into the embraces of things natural and sensual. No 
affection has such power in the soul to cause it to cleave unto its 
object, and to work it into a conformity unto it. Most other 
affections are transient in their operations, and work by a transport 
of nature--as anger, joy, fear, and the like; but love is capable of a 
constant exercise, is a spring unto all other affections, and unites 
the soul with an efficacy not easy to be expressed unto its object. 
And shall we think that God, who made all things for himself, did 
create this ruling affection in and with our natures, merely that we 
might be able to turn from him, and cleave unto other things with a 
power and faculty above any we have of adherence unto him? Wherefore, 
at our first creation, and in our primitive condition, love was the 
very soul and quickening principle of the life of God; and on our 
adherence unto him thereby the continuance of our relation unto him 
did depend. The law, rule, and measure of it was, "Thou shalt love the 
Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul." For this end did 
God create this affection in us. Not only our persons in their nature 
and being, but in all their powers and faculties, were fitted and 
prepared unto this end, of living unto God, and coming unto the 
enjoyment of him. And all their exercise on created objects was to be 
directed unto this end. Wherefore, the placing of our love on anything 
before God, or above him is a formal expression of our apostasy from 
 2. Divine excellencies are a proper, adequate object of our love. The 
will, indeed, can adhere unto nothing in love, but what the 
understanding apprehends as unto its truth and being; but it is not 
necessary that the understanding do fully comprehend the whole nature 
of that which the will does so adhere unto. Where a discovery is made 
unto and by the mind of real goodness and amiableness, the will there 
can close with its affections. And these are apprehended as absolutely 
the most perfect in the divine nature and holy properties of it. 
Whereas, therefore, not only that which is the proper object of love 
is in the divine excellencies, but it is there only perfectly and 
absolutely, without the mixture of anything that should give it an 
alloy, as there is in all creatures, they are the most suitable and 
adequate object of our love. 
 There is no greater discovery of the depravation of our natures by 
sin and degeneracy of our wills from their original rectitude, than 
that--whereas we are so prone to the love of other things, and therein 
do seek for satisfaction unto our souls where it is not to be obtained- 
-it is so hard and difficult to raise our hearts unto the love of God. 
Were it not for that depravation, he would always appear as the only   
suitable and 
satisfactory object unto our affections. 
 3. The especial object of divine, gracious love, is the divine 
goodness. "How great is his goodness, how great is his beauty!" Zech. 
9: 17. Nothing is amiable or a proper object of love, but what is 
good, and as it is so. Hence divine goodness, which is infinite, hath 
an absolutely perfect amiableness accompanying it. Because his 
goodness is inexpressible, his beauty is so. "How great is his 
goodness, how great is his beauty?" Hence are we called to give thanks 
unto the Lord, and to rejoice in him--which are the effects of love- 
-because he is good, Ps. 106: l; 136: 1. 
 Neither is divine goodness the especial object of our love as 
absolutely considered; but we have a respect unto it as comprehensive 
of all that mercy, grace, and bounty, which are suited to give us the 
best relief in our present condition and an eternal future reward. 
Infinite goodness, exerting itself in all that mercy, grace, 
faithfulness, and bounty, which are needful unto our relief and 
blessedness in our present condition, is the proper object of our 
love. Whereas, therefore, this is done only in Christ, there can be no 
true love of the divine goodness, but in and through him alone. 
 The goodness of God, as a creator, preserver, and rewarder, was a 
sufficient, yea, the adequate object of all love antecedently unto the 
entrance of sin and misery. In them, in God under those 
considerations, might the soul of man find full satisfaction as unto 
its present and future blessedness. But since the passing of sin, 
misery, and death upon us, our love can find no amiableness in any 
goodness--no rest, complacency, and satisfaction in any--but what is 
effectual in that grace and mercy by Christ, which we stand in need of 
for our present recovery and future reward. Nor does God require of us 
that we should love him otherwise but as he "is in Christ reconciling 
the world unto himself." So the apostle fully declares it: "In this 
was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his 
only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent 
his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. And we have known and 
believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that 
dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him," 1 John 4: 9, 10, 
16. God is love, of a nature infinitely good and gracious, so as to be 
the only object of all divine love. But this love can no way be known, 
or be so manifested unto us, as that we may and ought to love him, but 
by his love in Christ, his sending of him and loving us in him. Before 
this, without this, we do not, we cannot love God. For "herein is 
love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to 
be the propitiation for our sins." This is the cause, the spring and 
fountain, of all our love to him. They are but empty notions and 
imaginations, which some speculative persons please themselves withal, 
about love unto the divine goodness absolutely considered. For however 
infinitely amiable it may be in itself, it is not so really unto them, 
it is not suited unto their state and condition, without the 
consideration of the communications of it unto us in Christ. 
 4. These things being premised, we may consider the especial nature 
of this divine love, although I acknowledge that the least part of 
what believers have an experience of in their own souls can be 
expressed at least by me. Some few things I shall mention, which may 
give us a shadow of it, but not the express image of the thing itself. 
 (1.) Desire of union and enjoyment is the first vital act of this 
love. The soul, upon the discovery of the excellencies of God, 
earnestly desires to be united unto them--to be brought near unto that 
enjoyment of them whereof it is capable, and wherein alone it can find 
rest and satisfaction. This is essential unto all love; it unites the 
mind unto its object, and rests not but in enjoyment. God's love unto 
us ariseth out of the overflowing of his own immense goodness, whereof 
he will communicate the fruits and effects unto us. God is love; and 
herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent 
his only-begotten Son. Yet also does this love of God tend to the 
bringing of us unto him, not that he may enjoy us, but that he may be 
enjoyed by us. This answers the desire of enjoyment in us, Job 14: 15: 
"Thou shalt call me;" (that is, out of the dust at the last day;) 
"thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands." God's love will 
not rest, until it has brought us unto himself. But our love unto God 
ariseth from a sense of our own wants--our insufficiency to come unto 
rest in ourselves, or to attain unto blessedness by our own 
endeavours. In this state, seeing all in God, and expecting all from 
the suitableness of his excellencies unto our rest and satisfaction, 
our souls cleave unto him, with a desire of the nearest union whereof 
our natures are capable. We are made for him, and cannot rest until we 
come unto him. 
 Our goodness extends not unto God; we cannot profit him by any thing 
that we are, or can do. Wherefore, his love unto us has not respect 
originally unto any good in ourselves, but is a gracious, free act of 
his own. He does good for no other reason but because he is good. Nor 
can his infinite perfections take any cause for their original actings 
without himself. He wants nothing that he would supply by the 
enjoyment of us. But we have indigence in ourselves to cause our love 
to seek an object without ourselves. And so his goodness--with the 
mercy, grace, and bounty included therein--is the cause, reason, and 
object of our love. We love them for themselves; and because we are 
wanting and indigent, we love them with a desire of union and 
enjoyment--wherein we find that our satisfaction and blessedness does 
consist. Love in general unites the mind unto the object--the person 
loving unto the thing or person beloved. So is it expressed in an 
instance of human, temporary, changeable love, namely, that of 
Jonathan to David. His soul "was knit with the soul of David, and he 
loved him as his own soul," 1 Sam.18: 1. Love had so effectually 
united them, as that the soul of David was as his own. Hence are those 
expressions of this divine love, by "cleaving unto God, following hard 
after him, thirsting, panting after him," with the like intimations of 
the most earnest endeavours of our nature after union and enjoyment. 
 When the soul has a view by faith (which nothing else can give it) of 
the goodness of God as manifested in Christ--that is of the essential 
excellencies of his nature as exerting themselves in him--it reacheth 
after him with its most earnest embraces, and is restless until it 
comes unto perfect fruition. It sees in God the fountain of life, and 
would drink of the "river of his pleasures," Ps. 36: 8, 9--that in his 
"presence is fulness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures for 
evermore," Ps. 16: 11. It longs and pants to drink of that fountain-- 
to bathe itself in that river of pleasures; and wherein it comes short 
of present enjoyment, it lives in hopes that when we "awake, it shall 
be satisfied with his likeness," Ps. 17: 15. There is nothing grievous 
unto a soul filled with this love, but what keeps it from the full 
enjoyment of these excellencies of God. What does so naturally and 
necessarily, it groans under. Such is our present state in the body, 
wherein, in some sense, we are "absent from the Lord," 2 Cor. 5: 4, 8, 
9. And what does so morally, in the deviations of its will and 
affections, as sin--it hates and abhors and loathes itself for. Under 
the conduct of this love, the whole tendency of the soul is unto the 
enjoyment of God;--it would be lost in itself, and found in him,-- 
nothing in itself, and all in him. Absolute complacency herein--that 
God is what he is, that he should be what he is, and nothing else, and 
that as such we may be united unto him, and enjoy Him according to the 
capacity of our natures is the life of divine love. 
 (2.) It is a love of assimilation. It contains in it a desire and 
intense endeavour to be like unto God, according unto our capacity and 
measure. The soul sees all goodness, and consequently all that is 
amiable and lovely, in God--the want of all which it finds in itself. 
The fruition of his goodness is that which it longs for as its utmost 
end, and conformity unto it as the means thereof. There is no man who 
loves not God sincerely, but indeed he would have him to be somewhat 
that he is not, that he might be the more like unto him. This such 
persons are pleased withal whilst they can fancy it in any thing, Ps. 
50: 21. They that love him, would have him be all that he is--as he 
is, and nothing else; and would be themselves like unto him. And as 
love has this tendency, and is that which gives disquietment unto the 
soul when and wherein we are unlike unto God, so it stirs up constant 
endeavours after assimilation unto him, and has a principal efficacy 
unto that end. Love is the principle that actually assimilates and 
conforms us unto God, as faith is the principle which originally 
disposeth thereunto. In our renovation into the image of God, the 
transforming power is radically seated in faith, but acts itself by 
love. Love proceeding from faith gradually changeth the soul into the 
likeness of God; and the more it is in exercise, the more is that 
change effected. 
 To labour after conformity unto God by outward actions only, is to 
make an image of the living God, hewed out of the stock of a dead 
tree. It is from this vital principle of love that we are not forced 
into it as by engines, but naturally grow up into the likeness and 
image of God. For when it is duly affected with the excellencies of 
God in Christ, it fills the mind with thoughts and contemplations on 
them, and excites all the affections unto a delight in them. And where 
the soul acts itself constantly in the mind's contemplation, and the 
delight of the affections, it will produce assimilation unto the 
object of them. To love God is the only way and means to be like unto 
 (3.) It is a love of complacency, and therein of benevolence. Upon 
that view which we have by spiritual light and faith of the divine 
goodness, exerting itself in the way before described, our souls do 
approve of all that is in God, applaud it, adore it, and acquiesce in 
it. Hence two great duties do arise, and hereon do they depend. First, 
Joyful ascriptions of glory and honour unto God. All praise and 
thanksgiving, all blessing, all assignation of glory unto him, because 
of his excellencies and perfections, do arise from our satisfactory 
complacence in them. The righteous "rejoice in the Lord, and give 
thanks at the remembrance of his holiness," Ps. 97: 12. They are so 
pleased and satisfied at the remembrance of God's holiness, that it 
fills their hearts with joy and causeth them to break forth in 
praises. Praise is nothing but an outward expression of the inward 
complacency of our hearts in the divine perfections and their 
operations. And, secondly, Love herein acts itself by benevolence, as 
the constant inclination of the mind unto all things wherein the glory 
of God is concerned. It wills all the things wherein the name of God 
may be sanctified, his praises made glorious, and his will done on 
earth as it is in heaven. As God says of his own love unto us, that 
"he will rest in his love, he will joy over us [thee] with singing," 
Zeph. 3: 17--as having the greatest complacency in it, rejoicing over 
us with his "whole heart and his whole soul," Jer. 32: 41;--so, 
according unto our measure, do we by love rest in the glorious 
excellencies of God, rejoicing in them with our whole hearts and our 
whole souls. 
 (4.) This divine love is a love of friendship. The communion which we 
have with God therein is so intimate, and accompanied with such 
spiritual boldness, as gives it that denomination. So Abraham was 
called "The friend of God," Isa. 41: 8; James 2: 23. And because of 
that mutual trust which is between friends, "the secret of the Lord is 
with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant," Ps. 25: 
14. For, as our Saviour teacheth us, "servants" that is, those who are 
so, and no more--"know not what their lord does;" he rules them, 
commands them, or requires obedience from them; but as unto his secret- 
-his design and purpose, his counsel and love--they know nothing of 
it. But saith he unto his disciples, "I have called you friends, for 
all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you," 
John 15: 15. He proves them to be rightly called his friends, because 
of the communication of the secret of his mind unto them. 
 This is the great difference between them who are only servants in 
the house of God, and those who are so servants as to be friends also. 
The same commands are given unto all equally, and the same duties are 
required of all equally, inasmuch as they are equally servants; but 
those who are no more but so, know nothing of the secret counsel, 
love, and grace of God, in a due manner. For the natural man receiveth 
not the things that are of God. Hence all their obedience is servile. 
They know neither the principal motives unto it nor the ends of it. 
But they who are so servants as to be friends also, they know what 
their Lord does; the secret of the Lord is with them, and he shows 
them his covenant. They are admitted into an intimate acquaintance 
with the mind of Christ, ("we have the mind of Christ," 1 Cor. 2: 16,) 
and are thereon encouraged to perform the obedience of servants, with 
the love and delight of friends. 
 The same love of friendship is expressed by that intimate converse 
with, and especial residence that is between God and believers. God 
dwelleth in them, and they dwell in God; for God is love, 1 John 4: 
16. "If a man," saith the Lord Christ, "love me, he will keep my 
words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and 
make our abode with him," John 14: 23; and, "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," Rev. 3: 20. These are not empty sound of words;--there is 
substance under them, there is truth in them. Those whose hearts are 
duly exercised in and unto the love of God have experience of the 
refreshing approaches both of the Father and of the Son unto their 
souls, in the communications of a sense of their love, and pledges of 
their abode with them. 
 These things have I briefly premised, concerning the nature of divine 
love, that we may the better apprehend what we understand by it, in 
the application of it unto the person of Christ. For-- 
 1. The formal object of this love is the essential properties of the 
divine nature--its infinite goodness in particular. Wherever these 
are, there is the object and reason of this love. But they are all of 
them in the person of the Son, no less than in the person of the 
Father. As, therefore, we love the Father on this account, so are we 
to love the Son also. But-- 
 2. The Person of Christ is to be considered as he was incarnate, or 
clothed with our nature. And this takes nothing off from the formal 
reason of this love, but only makes an addition unto the motives of 
it. This, indeed, for a season veiled the loveliness of his divine 
excellencies, and so turned aside the eyes of many from him. For when 
he took on him "the form of a servant, and made himself of no 
reputation," he had, unto them who looked on him with carnal eyes, 
"neither form nor comeliness," that he should be desired or be loved. 
Howbeit, the entire person of Christ, God and man, is the object of 
this divine love, in all the acts of the whole exercise of it. That 
single effect of infinite wisdom and grace, in the union of the divine 
and human natures in the one person of the Son of God, renders him the 
object of this love in a peculiar manner. The way whereby we may 
attain this peculiar love, and the motives unto it, shall close these 
 A due consideration of, and meditation on, the proposal of the person 
of Christ unto us in the Scripture, are the proper foundation of this 
love. This is the formal reason of our faith in him, and love unto 
him. He is so proposed unto us in the Scripture, that we may believe 
in him and love him, and for that very end. And in particular with 
respect unto our love, to in generate it in us, and to excite it unto 
its due exercise, are those excellencies of his person--as the 
principal effect of divine wisdom and goodness, which we have before 
insisted on--frequently proposed unto us. To this end is he 
represented as "altogether lovely," and the especial glories of his 
person are delineated, yea, drawn to the life, in the holy records of 
the Old and New Testaments. It is no work of fancy or imagination--it 
is not the feigning images in our minds of such things as are meet to 
satisfy our carnal affections, to excite and act them; but it is a due 
adherence unto that object which is represented unto faith in the 
proposal of the gospel. Therein, as in a glass, do we behold the glory 
of Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, and have our souls 
filled with transforming affections unto him. 
 The whole Book of Canticles is nothing but a mystical declaration of 
the mutual love between Christ and the church. And it is expressed by 
all such ways and means as may represent it intense, fervent, and 
exceeding all other love whatever; which none, I suppose, will deny, 
at least on the part of Christ. And a great part of it consists in 
such descriptions of the person of Christ and his love as may render 
him amiable and desirable unto our souls, even "altogether lovely." To 
what end does the Holy Spirit so graphically describe and represent 
unto us the beauty and desirableness of his person, if it be not to 
ingenerate love in us unto him? All want of love unto him on this 
proposal is the effect of prevalent unbelief. It is pretended that the 
descriptions given of Christ in this book are allegorical, from whence 
nothing can be gathered or concluded. But God forbid we should so 
reflect on the wisdom and love of the Holy Spirit unto the church-- 
that he has proposed unto the faith of the church an empty sound and 
noise of words, without mind or sense. The expressions he uses are 
figurative, and the whole nature of the discourse, as unto its outward 
structure, is allegorical. But the things intended are real and 
substantial; and the metaphors used in the expression of them are 
suited, in a due attendance unto the analogy of faith, to convey a 
spiritual understanding and sense of the things themselves proposed in 
them. The church of God will not part with the unspeakable advantage 
and consolation--those supports of faith and incentives of love--which 
it receives by that divine proposal of the person of Christ and his 
love which is made therein, because some men have no experience of 
them nor understanding in them. The faith and love of believers is not 
to be regulated by the ignorance and boldness of them who have neither 
the one nor the other. The title of the 45th Psalm is, "shir jedidot", 
"A song of loves;"--that is, of the mutual love of Christ and the 
church. And unto this end--that our souls may be stirred up unto the 
most ardent affection towards him--is a description given us of his 
person, as "altogether lovely." To what other end is he so evidently 
delineated in the whole harmony of his divine beauties by the pencil 
of the Holy Spirit? 
 Not to insist on particular testimonies, it is evident unto all whose 
eyes are opened to discern these things, that there is no property of 
the divine nature which is peculiarly amiable--such as are goodness 
grace, love, and bounty, with infinite power and holiness--but it is 
represented and proposed unto us in the person of the Son of God, to 
this end, that we should love him above all, and cleave unto him. 
There is nothing in the human nature, in that fulness of grace and 
truth which dwelt therein, in that inhabitation of the Spirit which 
was in him without measure, in any thing of those "all things" wherein 
he has the pre-eminence--nothing in his love, condescension, grace, 
and mercy--nothing in the work that he fulfilled, what he did and 
suffered therein--nothing in the benefits we receive thereby--nothing 
in the power and glory that he is exalted unto at the right hand of 
God--but it is set forth in the Scripture and proposed unto us, that, 
believing in him, we may love him with all our hearts and souls. And, 
besides all this, that singular, that infinite effect of divine 
wisdom, whereunto there is nothing like in all the works of God, and 
wherewith none of them may be compared--namely, the constitution of 
his person by the union of his natures therein, whereby he becomes 
unto us the image of the invisible God, and wherein all the blessed 
excellencies of his distinct natures are made most illustriously 
conspicuous in becoming one entire principle of all his mediatory 
operations on our behalf--is proposed unto us as the complete object 
of our faith and love. This is that person whose loveliness and beauty 
all the angels of God, all the holy ones above, do eternally admire 
and adore. In him are the infinite treasures of divine wisdom and 
goodness continually represented unto them. This is he who is the joy, 
the delight, the love, the glory of the church below. "Thou whom our 
souls do love," is the title whereby they know him and convene with 
him, Cant. 1: 7; 3: 1, 4. This is he who is the Desire of all nations- 
-the Beloved of God and men. 
 The mutual intercourse on this ground of love between Christ and the 
church, is the life and soul of the whole creation; for on the account 
hereof all things consist in him. 
 There is more glory under the eye of God, in the sighs, groans, and 
mournings of poor souls filled with the love of Christ, after the 
enjoyment of him according to his promises--in their fervent prayers 
for his manifestation of himself unto them--in the refreshments and 
unspeakable joys which they have in his gracious visits and embraces 
of his love--than in the thrones and diadems of all the monarchs on 
the earth. Nor will they themselves part with the ineffable 
satisfactions which they have in these things, for all that this world 
can do for them or unto them. "Mallem ruere cum Christo, quam regnare 
cum Caesare." These things have not only rendered prisons and dungeons 
more desirable unto them than the most goodly palaces, on future 
accounts, but have made them really places of such refreshment and 
joys as men shall seek in vain to extract out of all the comforts that 
this world can afford. 
O curvae in terras animae et coelestium inanes! 
 Many there are who, not comprehending, not being affected with, that 
divine, spiritual description of the person of Christ which is given 
us by the Holy Ghost in the Scripture, do feign unto themselves false 
representations of him by images and pictures, so as to excite carnal 
and corrupt affections in their minds. By the help of their outward 
senses, they reflect on their imaginations the shape of a human body, 
cast into postures and circumstances dolorous or triumphant; and so, 
by the working of their fancy, raise a commotion of mind in 
themselves, which they suppose to be love unto Christ. But all these 
idols are teaches of lies. The true beauty and amiableness of the 
person of Christ, which is the formal object and cause of divine love, 
is so far from being represented herein, as that the mind is thereby 
wholly diverted from the contemplation of it. For no more can be so 
pictured unto us but what may belong unto a mere man, and what is 
arbitrarily referred unto Christ, not by faith, but by corrupt 
 The beauty of the person of Christ, as represented in the Scripture, 
consists in things invisible unto the eyes of flesh. They are such as 
no hand of man can represent or shadow. It is the eye of faith alone 
that can see this King in his beauty. What else can contemplate on the 
untreated glories of his divine nature? Can the hand of man represent 
the union of his natures in the same person, wherein he is peculiarly 
amiable? What eye can discern the mutual communications of the 
properties of his different natures in the same person, which depends 
thereon, whence it is that God laid down his life for us, and 
purchased his church with his own blood? In these things, O vain man! 
does the loveliness of the person of Christ unto the souls of 
believers consist, and not in those strokes of art which fancy has 
guided a skilful hand and pencil unto. And what eye of flesh can 
discern the inhabitation of the Spirit in all fulness in the human 
nature? Can his condescension, his love, his grace, his power, his 
compassion, his offices, his fitness and ability to save sinners, be 
deciphered on a tablet, or engraven on wood or stone? However such 
pictures may be adorned, however beautified and enriched, they are not 
that Christ which the soul of the spouse does love;--they are not any 
means of representing his love unto us, or of conveying our love unto 
him;--they only divert the minds of superstitious persons from the Son 
of God, unto the embraces of a cloud, composed of fancy and 
 Others there are who abhor these idols, and when they have so done, 
commit sacrilege. As they reject images, so they seem to do all love 
unto the person of Christ, distinct from other acts of obedience, as a 
fond imagination. But the most superstitious love unto Christ--that 
is, love acted in ways tainted with superstition--is better than none 
at all. But with what eyes do such persons read the Scriptures? With 
what hearts do they consider them? What do they conceive is the 
intention of the Holy Ghost in all those descriptions which he gives 
us of the person of Christ as amiable and desirable above all things, 
making wherewithal a proposal of him unto our affections--inciting us 
to receive him by faith, and to cleave unto him in love? yea, to what 
end is our nature endued with this affection--unto what end is the 
power of it renewed in us by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit--if 
it may not be fixed on this most proper and excellent object of it? 
 This is the foundation of our love unto Christ namely, the revelation 
and proposal of him unto us in the Scripture as altogether lovely. The 
discovery that is made therein of the glorious excellencies and 
endowments of his person--of his love, his goodness, and grace--of his 
worth and work--is that which engageth the affections of believers 
unto him. It may be said, that if there be such a proposal of him made 
unto all promiscuously, then all would equally discern his amiableness 
and be affected with it, who assent equally unto the truth of that 
revelation. But it has always fallen out otherwise. In the days of his 
flesh, some that looked on him could see neither "form nor comeliness" 
in him wherefore he should be desired; others saw his glory--"glory as 
of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth". To some 
he is precious; unto others he is disallowed and rejected--a stone 
which the builders refused, when others brought it forth, crying, 
"Grace, grace unto it" as the head of the corner. Some can see nothing 
but weakness in him; unto others the wisdom and power of God do 
evidently shine forth in him. Wherefore it must be said, that 
notwithstanding that open, plain representation that is made of him in 
the Scripture, unless the holy Spirit gives us eyes to discern it, and 
circumcise our hearts by the cutting off corrupt prejudices and all 
effects of unbelief, implanting in them, by the efficacy of his grace, 
this blessed affection of love unto him, all these things will make no 
impression on our minds. 
 As it was with the people on the giving of the law, notwithstanding 
all the great and mighty works which God had wrought among them, yet 
having not given them "a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears 
to hear"--which he affirms that he had not done, Deut. 29: 4,--they 
were not moved unto faith or obedience by them; so is it in the 
preaching of the gospel. Notwithstanding all the blessed revelation 
that is made of the excellencies of the person of Christ therein, yet 
those into whose hearts God does not shine to give the knowledge of 
his glory in his face, can discern nothing of it, nor are their hearts 
affected with it. 
 We do not, therefore, in these things, follow "cunningly-devised 
fables." We do not indulge unto our own fancies and imaginations;-- 
they are not unaccountable raptures or ecstasies which are pretended 
unto, nor such an artificial concatenation of thoughts as some 
ignorant of these things do boast that they can give an account of. 
Our love to Christ ariseth alone from the revelation that is made of 
him in the Scripture is ingenerated, regulated, measured, and is to be 
judged thereby. 

John Owen, Christologia

(continued in Part 14...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-05: owlog-13.txt