(Owen, Christologia, Part 20)

Chapter XX. The Exercise of the Mediatory Office of Christ in Heaven 
 III. The third and last thing which we proposed unto consideration, 
in our inquiry into the present state and condition of the person of 
Christ in heaven, is the exercise and discharge of his mediatory once 
in behalf of the church; especially as he continueth to be a "minister 
of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, 
and not man." 
 All Christians acknowledge that his present state is a state of the 
highest glory, - of exaltation above the whole creation of God, above 
every name that is or can be named; and hereon they esteem their own 
honour and safety to depend. Neither do they doubt of his power, but 
take it for granted that he can do whatever he pleaseth; which is the 
ground of their placing all their confidence in him. But we must show, 
moreover, that his present state is a state of officepower, work, and 
duty. He leads not in heaven a life of mere glory, majesty, and 
blessedness, but a life of office, love, and care also. He lives as 
the Mediator of the church; as the King, Priest, and Prophet thereof. 
Hereon do our present safety and our future eternal salvation depend. 
Without the continual acting of the officepower and care of Christ, 
the church could not be preserved one moment. And the darkness of our 
faith herein is the cause of oft our disconsolations, and most of our 
weaknesses in obedience. Most men have only general and confused 
notions and apprehensions of the present state of Christ, with respect 
unto the church. And by some, all considerations of this nature are 
despised and derided. But revealed things belong unto us; especially 
such as are of so great importance unto the glory of God and the 
saving of our own souls, - such as this is, concerning the present 
state of the person of Christ in heaven, with respect unto his 
office-power and care. 
 Thus he is at once represented in all his offices, Rev. 5: 6, "And I 
beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living 
creatures, 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." The whole representation of the 
glory of God, with all his holy attendants, is here called his 
"throne;" whence Christ is said to be in the "midst" of it. And this 
he is in his kingly glory; with respect also whereunto he is said to 
have "seven horns," or perfect power for the accomplishment of his 
will. And with respect unto his sacerdotal office, he is represented 
as a "Lamb that had been slain;" it being the virtue of his oblation 
that is continually effectual for the salvation of the church. For, as 
the "Lamb of God," - in the offering of himself, - he "taketh away the 
sin of the world." And as a prophet he is said to have "seven eyes," 
which are "the seven Spirits of God;" or a perfect fulness of all 
spiritual light and wisdom in himself, with a power for the 
communication of gifts and grace for the illumination of the church. 
 The nature of these offices of Christ, what belongs unto them and 
their charge, as was before intimated, I have declared elsewhere. I do 
now no farther consider them but as they relate unto the present state 
and condition of the person of Christ in heaven. And because it would 
be too long a work to treat of them all distinctly, I shall confine 
myself unto the consideration of his priestly office, with what 
depends thereon. And with respect thereunto the things ensuing may be 
 1. The Lord Christ entered into heaven, the place of the residence 
of the glory of God, as into a temple, a tabernacle, a place of sacred 
worship. He did so as the high priest of the church, Heb. 9: 24. He 
"is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the 
figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the 
presence of God for us." He is entered into heaven, as it was figured 
by the tabernacle of old; which was the place of all sacred and solemn 
worship. And therefore is he said to enter into it "through the veil," 
Heb. 6: 19, 20, 10: 19, 20; which was the way of entrance into the 
most holy place, both in the tabernacle and temple. Heaven is not only 
a palace, a throne, as it is God's throne, Matt. 5: 34; but it is a 
temple, wherein God dwells, not only in majesty and power, but in 
grace and mercy. It is the seat of ordinances and solemn worship. So 
is it represented, Rev. 7: 15, 17. It is said of the whole number of 
the saints above that have passed through the tribulations of this 
world, that they are "before the throne of God, and serve him day and 
night in his temple, and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell 
among them;" and "the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall 
feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of water." See also 
chap. 8: 1-4. The worship of the church below may also be herein 
comprised; but it is by virtue of communion with that above. This is 
that heaven which the souls of believers do long for an entrance into. 
Other apprehensions of it are but uncertain speculations. 
 2. In this temple, this sanctuary, the Lord Christ continueth 
gloriously to minister before the throne of grace, in the discharge of 
his office. See Heb. 4: 14-16, 9: 24. As the high priest went into the 
holy place to minister for the church unto God, before the ark and 
mercy-seat, which were types of the throne of grace; so does our High 
Priest act for us in the real presence of God. He did not enter the 
holy place only to reside there in a way of glory, but to do 
templework, and to give unto God all that glory, honour, and worship, 
which he will receive from the church. And we may consider, both (1.) 
What this work is, and (2.) How it is performed. 
 (1.) In general; herein Christ exerteth and exerciseth all his love, 
compassion, pity, and care towards the church, and every member of it. 
This are we frequently called unto the consideration of, as the 
foundation of all our consolation, as the fountain of all our 
obedience. See Heb. 2: 17, 18, 4: 15, 16, 5: 2. Thoughts hereof are 
the relief of believers in all their distresses and temptations; and 
the effects of it are all their supplies of grace, enabling them to 
persevere in their obedience. He does appear for them as the great 
representative of the church, to transact all their affairs with God. 
And that for three ends. 
 First, To make effectual the atonement that he has made for sin. By 
the continual representation of it, and of himself as a "Lamb that had 
been slain," he procures the application of the virtues and benefits 
of it, in reconciliation and peace with God, unto their souls and 
consciences. Hence are all believers sprinkled and washed with his 
blood in all generations, - in the application of the virtues of it 
unto them, as shed for them. 
 Secondly, To undertake their protection, and to plead their cause 
against all the accusations of Satan. He yet accuseth and chargeth 
them before God; but Christ is their advocate at the throne of grace, 
effectually frustrating all his attempts, Rev. 12: 10; Zech. 3: 2. 
 Thirdly, To intercede for them, as unto the communication of all 
grace and glory, all supplies of the Spirit, the accomplishment of all 
the promises of the covenant towards them, 1 John 2: 1, 2. This is the 
work of Christ in heaven. In these things, as the high priest of the 
church, does he continue to administer his mediatory office on their 
behalf. And herein is he attended with the songs and joyful 
acclamations of all the holy ones that are in the presence of God, 
giving glory to God by him. 
 (2.) As unto the manner of this glorious administration, sundry 
things are to be considered. 
 [1.] That this transaction of things in heaven, being in the temple 
of God, and before the throne of grace, is a solemn instituted worship 
at present, which shall cease at the end of the world. Religious 
worship it is, or that wherein and whereby all the saints above do 
give glory to God. And it is instituted worship, not that which is 
merely natural, in that it is God's especial appointment, in and by 
Christ the mediator. It is a church-state which is constituted hereby, 
wherein these glorious ordinances are celebrated; and such a state as 
shall not be eternal, but has its time allotted unto it. And believers 
at present have, by faith, an admission into communion with this 
church above, in all its divine worship. For we "are come unto mount 
Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and 
to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and 
church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to God the 
Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to 
Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of 
sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel," Heb. 12: 
22-24. A church state does the apostle most expressly represent unto 
us. It is Zion, Jerusalem, the great assembly, - the names of the 
church state under the Old Testament. And it is a state above, the 
heavenly Jerusalem, where are all the holy angels, and the spirits of 
just men made perfect in themselves, though not in their state as to 
the restitution of their bodies at the resurrection. And a holy 
worship is there in this great assembly; for not only is Jesus in it 
as the mediator of the covenant, but there is the "blood of 
sprinkling" also, in the effectual application of it unto the church. 
Hereunto have we an entrance. In this holy assembly and worship have 
we communion by faith whilst we are here below, Heb. 10: 19-22. O that 
my soul might abide and abound in this exercise of faith! - that I 
might yet enjoy a clearer prospect of this glory, and inspection into 
the beauty and order of this blessed assembly! How inconceivable is 
the representation that God here makes of the glory of his wisdom, 
love, grace, goodness, and mercy, in Christ! How excellent is the 
manifestation of the glory and honour of Christ in his person and 
offices! - the glory given him by the Father! How little a portion do 
we know, or can have experience in, of the refreshing, satiating 
communications of divine love and goodness, unto all the members of 
this assembly; or of that unchangeable delight in beholding the glory 
of Christ, and of God in him, - of that ardency of affections 
wherewith they cleave unto him, and continual exultation of spirit, 
whereby they triumph in the praises of God, that are in all the 
members of it! To enter into this assembly by faith, - to join with it 
in the assignation of praises unto "him that sitteth on the throne, 
and to the Lamb for evermore,"--to labour after a frame of heart in 
holy affections and spiritual delight in some correspondence with that 
which is in the saints above, - is the duty, and ought to be the 
design, of the church of believes here below. So much as we are 
furthered and assisted herein by our present ordinances, so much 
benefit and advantage have we by them, and no more. A constant view of 
this glory will cast contempt on all the desirable things of this 
world, and deliver our minds from any dreadful apprehensions of what 
is most terrible therein. 
 [2.] This heavenly worship in the sanctuary above, administered by 
the High Priest over the house of God, is conspicuously glorious. The 
glory of God is the great end of it, as shall be immediately declared; 
that is, the manifestation of it. The manifestation of the glory of 
God consists really in the effects of his infinite wisdom, goodness, 
grace, and power;--declaratively, in the express acknowledgement of it 
with praise. Herein, therefore, does the solemn worship of God in the 
sanctuary above consist, - setting aside only the immediate acting of 
Christ in his intercession. It is a glorious, express acknowledgement 
of the wisdom, love, goodness, grace, and power of God, in the 
redemption, sanctification, and salvation of the church by Jesus 
Christ, with a continual ascription of all divine honour unto him in 
the way of praise. For the manner of its performance, our present 
light into it is but dark and obscure. Some things have an evidence in 
them. As, - 
 1st, That there is nothing carnal in it, or such things as are 
suited unto the fancies and imaginations of men. In the thoughts of 
heaven, most persons are apt to frame images in their minds of such 
carnal things as they suppose they could be delighted withal. But they 
are far remote from the worship of this holy assembly. The worship of 
the gospel, which is spiritually glorious, makes a nearer approach 
unto it than that of the Temple, which was outwardly and carnally so. 
 2dly, It is not merely mental, or transacted only in the silent 
thoughts of each individual person; for, as we have showed, it is the 
worship of a church assembly wherein they have all communion, and join 
in the performance of it. We know not well the way and manner of 
communication between angels and the spirits of just men made perfect. 
It is expressed in the Scripture by voices, postures, and gestures; 
which, although they are not of the same nature as absolutely ours 
are, yet are they really significant of the things they would express, 
and a means of mutual communication. Yea, I know not how far God may 
give them the use of voice and words whereby to express his praise, as 
Moses talked with Christ at his transfiguration, Matt. 17: 3. But the 
manner of it is such as whereby the whole assembly above do jointly 
set forth and celebrate the praises of God and the glory hereof 
consisteth in three things. 
 [1.] The blessed and beautiful order of all things in that 
sanctuary. Job describes the grave beneath to be a "place without any 
order, and where the light is as darkness," chap. 10: 22. All above is 
order and light, - every person and thing in its proper place and 
exercise. 1st, Heaven itself is a temple, a sanctuary, made so by the 
especial presence of God, and the ministration of Christ in the 
tabernacle of his human nature. 2dly, God is on the throne of grace, 
gloriously exalted on the account of his grace, and for the 
dispensation of it. To the saints above he is on the throne of grace, 
in that they are in the full enjoyment of the effects of his grace, 
and do give glory unto him on the account thereof. He is so, also with 
respect unto the church here below, in the continual communications of 
grace and mercy through Christ 3dly, The Lord Christ, in his human 
nature, is before the throne, acting his mediatory office and power in 
behalf of the church 4thly, All the holy angels, in the various orders 
and degrees of their ministration, are about the throne continually. 
So  - 5thly, Are the spirits of just men made perfect, in the various 
measures of light and glory. And these things were obscurely 
represented in the order of the church at its first erection in the 
wilderness; for the ordinances of God among them were patterns or 
figures of heavenly things, Heb. 9: 23. (1st,) In the midst was the 
tabernacle or sanctuary, - which represented the sanctuary or temple 
above. (2dly,) In the most holy place were the ark and mercy-seat, - 
representatives of the throne of grace. (3dly,) The ministry of the 
high priest,--a type of the ministry of Christ. (4thly,) The Levites, 
who attended on the priest, did represent the ministry of angels 
attending on Christ in the charge of his office. And, (5thly,) Round 
about them were the tribes in their order. 
 [2.] In the full, clear apprehensions which all the blessed ones 
have of the glory of God in Christ, of the work and effects of his 
wisdom and grace towards mankind. These are the foundation of all 
divine worship. And because our conceptions and apprehensions about 
them are dark, low, obscure, and inevident, our worship is weak and 
imperfect also. But all is open unto the saints above. We are in the 
dust, the blood, the noise of the battle; they are victoriously at 
peace, and have a perfect view of what they have passed through, and 
what they have attained unto. They are come to the springs of life and 
light, and are filled with admiration of the grace of God in 
themselves and one another. What they see in God and in Jesus Christ, 
what they have experience of in themselves; what they know and learn 
from others, are all of them inconceivable and inexpressible. It is 
well for us, if we have so much experience of these things as to see a 
real glory in the fulness and perfection of them. The apprehensions by 
eight, without mixture of unsteadiness or darkness, without the alloy 
of fears or temptations, with an ineffable sense of the things 
themselves on their hearts or minds, are the springs or motives of the 
holy worship which is in heaven. 
 [3.] In the glorious manner of the performance of it. Now, whereas 
it ariseth from sight and present enjoyment, it must consist in a 
continual ascription of glory and praise unto God; and so it is 
described in the Scripture. See Rev. 4: 9-11, with Isa. 6: 3. And how 
little a portion of the glory of these things is it that we can 
 3. In this solemn assembly before the throne of grace, the Lord 
Jesus Christ--the great High Priest - does represent and render 
acceptable unto God the worship of the church here below. So it is 
expressed, Rev. 8: 3, 4, "And another angel came and stood at the 
altar, baring a golden censer; and there was given unto him much 
incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon 
the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the 
incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before 
God out of the angel's hand." It is a representation of the high 
priest burning incense on the golden altar on the day of atonement, 
when he entered into the most holy place; for that altar was placed 
just at the entrance of it, directly before the ark and mercy seat, 
representing the throne of God. This angel, therefore, is our High 
Priest; none else could approach that altar, or offer incense on it, 
the smoke whereof was to enter into the holy place. And the "prayers 
of all saints" is a synecdochical expression of the whole worship of 
the church. And this is presented before the throne of God by this 
High Priest. And it is not said that their prayers came unto the 
throne of God, but the smoke of the incense out of the hand of the 
angel did so; for it is the incense of the intercession of Christ 
alone that gives them their acceptance with God. Without this, none of 
our prayers, praises, or thanksgivings, would ever have access into 
the presence of God, or unto the throne of grace. Blessed be God for 
this relief, under the consideration of the weakness and imperfection 
of them! Wherefore, in him and by him alone do we represent all our 
desires, and prayers, and whole worship to God. And herein, in all our 
worship, do we ourselves "enter into the most holy place," Heb. 10: 
19. We do it not merely by faith, but by this especial exercise of it, 
in putting our prayers into the hand of this High Priest. 
 There are three things in all our worship that would hinder its 
access unto God, and acceptance with him, as also keep off comfort and 
peace from our consciences. The first is, The sin or iniquity that 
cleaves unto it; secondly, The weakness or imperfection that at best 
is in it; and, thirdly, The unworthiness of the persons by whom it is 
performed. With reference unto these things the Law could never 
consummate or perfect the consciences of them that came unto God by 
the sacrifices of it. But there are three things in the sacerdotal 
ministration of Christ that remove and take them all away, whereon we 
have access with boldness unto God. And they are - (1.) The influence 
of his oblation; (2.) The efficacy of his intercession; and, (3.) The 
dignity of his person. Through the first of these he bears and takes 
away all the iniquity of our holy things, as Aaron did typically of 
old, by virtue of the plate of gold with the name of God (a figure of 
Christ) on his forehead, Exod. 28: 36-38. He has made atonement for 
them in the blood of his oblation, and they appear not in the presence 
of God. Through the second, or the efficacy of his intercession, he 
gives acceptance unto our prayers and holy worship, with power and 
prevalence before God. For this is that incense whose smoke or sweet 
perfume comes up with the prayers of all saints unto the throne of 
God. Through the third, or the dignity of his person, wherein he 
appears as the representative of his whole mystical body, he takes 
away from our consciences that sense of our own vileness and 
unworthiness which would not suffer us to approach with boldness unto 
the throne of grace. In these things consists the life of the worship 
of the church, - of all believers; without which, as it would not be 
acceptable unto God, so we could have neither peace nor consolation in 
it ourselves. 
 4. Herein has the church that is triumphant communion with that 
which is yet militant. The assembly above have not lost their 
concernment in the church here below. As we rejoice in their glory, 
safety, and happiness, that having passed through the storms and 
tempests, the temptations, sufferings, and dangers, of this life and 
world, they are harboured in eternal glory, unto the praise of God in 
Christ; so are they full of affections towards their brethren 
exercised with the same temptations, difficulties, and dangers, which 
they have passed through, with earnest desires for their deliverance 
and safety. Wherefore, when they behold the Lord Jesus Christ, as the 
great high priest over the house of God, presenting their prayers, 
with all their holy worship unto him, rendering them acceptable by the 
incense of his own intercession, it fills them with satisfaction, and 
continually excites them unto the assignation of praise, and glory, 
and honour unto him. This is the state of the saints above, with 
respect unto the church here below. This is all which may be herein 
ascribed unto them; and this may safely be so. What some have fancied 
about their own personal intercession, and that for particular 
persons, is derogatory unto the honour of Jesus Christ, and 
inconsistent with their present condition; but in these things 
consists their communion with the church here below. A love they have 
unto it, from their union with it in the same mystical body, Eph. 1: 
10. A sense they have of its condition, from the experience they had 
of it in the days of their flesh. A great concernment they have for 
the glory of God in them, and a fervent desire of their eternal 
salvation. They know that without them they shall not be absolutely 
consummate, or made perfect in their whole persons, Rev. 6: 11. In 
this state of things they continually behold the Lord Jesus Christ 
presenting their prayers before the throne of grace, - making 
intercession for them,--appearing to plead their cause against all 
their adversaries, - transacting all their affairs in the presence of 
God, - taking care of their salvation, that not one of them shall 
perish. This continually fills them with a holy satisfaction and 
complacency, and is a great part of the subject-matter of their 
incessant praises and ascriptions of glory unto him. Herein lies the 
concernment of the church above in that here below; this is the 
communion that is between them, whereof the person of Christ, in the 
discharge of his office, is the bond and centre. 
 5. There is herein a full manifestation made of the wisdom of God, 
in all the holy institutions of the tabernacle and temple of old. 
Herein the veil is fully taken off from them, and that obscure 
representation of heavenly things is brought forth unto light and 
glory. It is true, this is done unto a great degree in the 
dispensation of the Gospels. By the coming of Christ in the flesh, and 
the discharge of his mediatory office in this world, the substance of 
what they did prefigure is accomplished; and in the revelations of the 
Gospel the nature and end of them is declared. Howbeit, they extended 
their signification else unto things within the veil, or the discharge 
of the priestly office of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, Heb. 9 24. 
Wherefore, as we have not yet a perfection of light to understand the 
depth of the mysteries contained in them; so themselves also were not 
absolutely fulfilled until the Lord Christ discharged his office in 
the holy place. This is the glory of the pattern which God showed unto 
Moses in the mount, made conspicuous and evident unto all. Therein 
especially do the saints of the Old Testament, who were exercised all 
their days in those typical institutions whose end and design they 
could not comprehend, see the manifold wisdom and goodness of God in 
them all, rejoicing in them for evermore. 
 6. All that the Lord Christ receives of the Father on the account of 
this holy interposition and mediation for the church, he is endowed 
with sovereign authority and almighty power in himself to execute and 
accomplish. Therefore is he said, as a priest, is be "made higher than 
the heavens;" and as a "priest to sit down at the right hand of the 
majesty on high," Heb. 8: 1. This glorious power does not immediately 
belong unto Him on the account of his sacerdotal office, but it is 
that qualification of his person which is necessary unto the effectual 
discharge of it. Hence it is said of him, that he should "bear the 
glory," and "sit and rule upon his throne," and should be "a priest 
upon his throne," Zech. 6: 13. A throne is insigne regium, and 
properly belongs unto Christ with respect unto his kingly office, Heb. 
1: 8, 9. Howbeit the power accompanying and belonging unto his throne 
being necessary unto the effectual discharge of his priestly office, 
as he sits and rules on his throne, so it is said that he is a "priest 
on his throne" also. 
 This is one instance of the present state of Christ in heaven, and 
of the work which he does there perform, and the only instance I shall 
insist upon. He was made a priest "after the power of an endless 
life,"--the life which he now leads in heaven;--and "lives for ever to 
make intercession for us." He was dead, but is alive, and lives for 
evermore, and has the keys of hell and death, - all power over the 
enemies of his church. God on a throne of grace; - Christ, the high 
priest, so on his right hand in glory and power as yet to be "before 
the throne" in the virtue of his sacerdotal office, with the whole 
concernment of the church on his hand, transacting all things with God 
for them; - all the holy angels and the "spirits of just men made 
perfect" encompassing the throne with continual praises unto God, even 
the Father, and him, on the account of the work of infinite wisdom, 
goodness, and grace, in his incarnation, mediation, and salvation of 
the church thereby; - himself continuing to manage the cause of the 
whole church before God, presenting all their prayers and services 
unto him perfumed with his own intercession, - is that resemblance of 
heaven and its present glory which the Scripture offers unto us. But, 
alas! how weak, how dark, how low, are our conceptions and 
apprehensions of these heavenly things! We see yet as through a glass 
darkly, and know but in part. The time is approaching when we shall 
see these things "with open face," and know even as we are known. The 
best improvement we can make of this prospect, whilst faith supplies 
the place of future sight, is to be stirred up thereby unto holy 
longings after a participation in this glory, and constant diligence 
in that holy obedience whereby we may arrive thereunto. 
 What remaineth yet to be spoken on this subject has respect unto 
these two ensuing propositions: - 
 1. All the effects of the offices of Christ, internal, spiritual, 
and eternal, in grace and glory, - all external fruits of their 
dispensation in providence towards the church or its enemies,--are 
wrought by divine power; or are the effects of an emanation of power 
from God. They are all wrought "by the exceeding greatness of his 
power," even as he wrought in Christ himself when he raised him from 
the dead, Eph 1: 19. For all the outward works of God, such as all 
these are, which are wrought in and for the church, are necessarily 
immediate effects of divine power, - nor can be of another nature. 
 2. Upon supposition of the obedience of Christ in this life, and the 
atonement made by his blood for sin, with his exaltation thereon, 
there is nothing in any essential property of the nature of God, - 
nothing in the eternal, unchangeable law of obedience, - to hinder but 
that God might work all these things in us unto his own honour and 
glory, in the eternal salvation of the church and the destruction of 
all its enemies, without a continuance of the administration of the 
offices of Christ in heaven, and all that sacred solemnity of worship 
wherewith it is accompanied. 
 These things being certain and evident, we may inquire thereon, 
whence it is that God has ordered the continuation of all these things 
in heaven above, seeing these ends might have been accomplished 
without them, by immediate acts of divine power. 
 The great "works of the LORD are sought out of them that have 
pleasure in them," Ps. 111:2. This, therefore, being a great work of 
God, which he has wrought and revealed unto us, especially in the 
effect and fruit of it, and that for the manifestation of his wisdom 
and grace, it is our duty to inquire into it with all humble 
diligence; "for those things which are revealed belong unto us and our 
children," that we may do the will of God for our good. Wherefore, - 
 (1.) God would have it so, for the manifestation of his own glory. 
This is the first great end of all the works of God. That it is so is 
a fundamental principle of our religion. And how his works do glorify 
him is our duty to inquire. The essential glory of God is always the 
same, - eternal and immutable. It is the being of God, with that 
respect which all creatures have unto it. For glory adds a supposition 
of relation unto being. But the manifestations of his glory are 
various, according to the pleasure of his will. Wherefore, that which 
he chooseth to manifest his glory in and by at one time, he may cease 
from using it unto that end at another; for its being a means of the 
manifestation of his glory may depend on such circumstances, such a 
state of things, which being removed, it ceaseth to be. So of old he 
manifested and represented his glory in the tabernacle and temple, and 
the holy pledges of his presence in them, and was glorified in all the 
worship of the Law. But now he ceaseth so to do, nor is any more 
honoured by the services and ceremonies of religion therein 
prescribed. If the whole structure of the temple and all its beautiful 
services were now in being on the earth, no glory would redound unto 
God thereby, - he would receive none from it. To expect the glory of 
God in them would be a high dishonour unto him. And God may at any 
time begin to manifest his glory by such ways and means as he did not 
formerly male use of unto that purpose. So is it with all Gospel 
ordinances: which state will be continued unto the consummation of all 
things here below, and no longer; for then shall they all cease, God 
will be no more glorified in them or by them. So has God chosen to 
glorify himself in heaven by this administration of all things in and 
by Jesus Christ; whereunto also there is an end determined. 
 And in the continuance of this holy worship in the sanctuary above, 
God does manifest his glory on many accounts, and resteth thereto. 
First, he does it in and unto the saints who departed this life under 
the Old Testament. They came short in glory of what they now enter 
into who die in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. For - not to 
dispute about nor determine positively, what was their state and 
condition before the ascension of Christ into heaven, or what was the 
nature of the blessed receptacle of their souls--it is manifest that 
they did not, they could not, behold the glory of God, and the 
accomplishment of the mystery of his wisdom and will, in Jesus Christ; 
nor was it perfectly made known unto them. Whatever were their rest, 
refreshment, and blessedness, - whatever were their enjoyments of the 
presence of God; yet was there no throne of grace erected in heaven, - 
no High Priest appearing before it, - no Lamb as it had been slain, - 
no joint ascription of glory unto him that sits on the throne, and the 
Lamb, for ever; God "having provided some better thing for us, that 
they without us should not be made perfect." See Eph 3: 9, 10. 
 This was that, and this was that alone, so far as in the Scripture 
it is revealed, wherein they came short of that glory which is now 
enjoyed in heaven. And herein consists the advantage of the saints 
above them, who now die in faith. Their state in heaven was suited 
unto their faith and worship on the earth. They had no clear, distinct 
knowledge of the incarnation and mediatory office of Christ by their 
revelations and services; only they believed that the promise of 
deliverance, of grace and mercy, should be in and by him accomplished. 
Their reception into heaven - that which they were made meet and 
prepared for by their faith and worship - was suited thereunto. They 
had a blessed rest and happiness, above what we can comprehend; for 
who knows what it is to be in the glorious presence of God, though at 
the greatest distance? They were not immediately surprised with an 
appearance of that glory which they had no distinct apprehensions of 
in this world. Neither they nor the angels knew clearly either the 
sufferings of Christ or the glory that should ensue. But they saw and 
knew that there was yet something farther to be done in heaven and 
earth, as yet hid in God and the counsels of his will, for the 
exaltation of his glory in the complete salvation of the church. This 
they continued waiting for in the holy place of their refreshment 
above. Faith gave them, and it gives us, an entrance into the presence 
of God, and makes us meet for it. But what they immediately enjoyed 
did not in its whole kind exceed what their faith directed unto. No 
more does ours. Wherefore they were not prepared for a view of the 
present glory of heaven; nor did enjoy it. But the saints under the 
New Testament, who are clearly instructed by the gospel in the 
mysteries of the incarnation and mediation of Christ, are, by their 
faith and worship, made meet for an immediate entrance into this 
glory. This they long for, this they expect and are secured of, from 
the prayer of our Saviour, - that they be, when they leave this world, 
where he is, to behold his glory. 
 But now, upon the entrance of Christ into the heavenly sanctuary, 
all those holy ones were admitted into the same glory with what the 
saints under the New Testament do enjoy. Hereon with open face they 
behold the use and end of those typical services and ordinances 
wherein these things were shadowed out unto them. No heart can 
conceive that ineffable addition of glory which they received hereby. 
The mystery of the wisdom and grace of God in their redemption and 
salvation by Christ was now fully represented unto them; what they had 
prayed for, longed for, and desired to see in the days of their flesh 
on the earth, and waited for so long in heaven, was now gloriously 
made manifest unto them. Hereon did glorious light and blessed 
satisfaction come into and upon all those blessed souls, who died in 
the faith, but had not received the promise, - only beheld it afar of. 
And hereby did God greatly manifest his own glory in them and unto 
them; which is the first end of the continuation of this state of 
things in heaven. This makes me judge that the season of Christ's 
entrance into heaven, as the holy sanctuary of God, was the greatest 
instance of created glory that ever was or ever shall be, unto the 
consummation of all things. And this as for other reasons, so because 
all the holy souls who had departed in the faith from the foundation 
of the world, were then received into the glorious light of the 
counsels of God, and knowledge of the effects of his grace by Jesus 
 Want of a due apprehension of the truth herein has caused many, 
especially those of the Church of Rome, to follow after vain 
imaginations about the state of the souls of the faithful, departed 
under the Old Testament. Generally, they shut them up in a 
subterranean limbus, whence they were delivered by the descent of 
Christ. But it is contrary unto all notions and revelations of the 
respect of God unto his people - contrary to the life and nature of 
faith - that those who have passed through their course of obedience 
in this world, and finished the work given unto them, should not 
enter, upon their departure, into blessed rest in the presence of God. 
Take away the persuasion hereof, and the whole nature of faith is 
destroyed. But into the fulness of present glory they could not be 
admitted; as has been declared. 
 Moreover, God hereby manifests his glory unto the holly angels 
themselves. Those things wherein it does consist were hid in himself 
even from them, from the foundation of the world, - hidden in the holy 
counsels of his will, Eph 3: 9. Wherefore unto these "principalities 
and powers in heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God was made 
known by the church," verse 10. The church being redeemed by the blood 
of Christ, and himself thereon exalted in this glory, they came to 
know the "manifold wisdom of God" by the effects of it; which before 
they earnestly desired to look into, 1 Peter 1: 12. Hereby is all the 
glory of the counsels of God in Christ made conspicuous unto them; and 
they receive themselves no small advancement in glory thereby. For in 
the present comprehension of the mind of God, and doing of his will, 
does their blessedness consist. 
 Heaven itself was not what it is, before the entrance of Christ into 
the sanctuary for the administration of his office. Neither the saints 
departed nor the angels themselves were participant of that glory 
which now they are. Neither yet does this argue any defect in heaven, 
or the state thereof in its primitive constitution; for the perfection 
of any state has respect unto that order of things which it is 
originally suited unto. Take all things in the order of the first 
creation, and with respect thereunto heaven was perfect in glory from 
the beginning. Howbeit there was still a relation and regard in it 
unto the church of mankind on the earth, which was to be translated 
thither. But by the entrance of sin all this order was disturbed, and 
all this relation was broken. And there followed thereon an 
imperfection in the state of heaven itself; for it had no longer a 
relation unto, or communion with, them on earth, nor was a receptacle 
meet for men who were sinners to be received into. Wherefore, by the 
"blood of the cross," God "reconciled all things unto himself, whether 
they be things in earth, or things in heaven," Col. 1: 20, - or 
gathered all things into one in him, "both which are in heaven, and 
which are on earth," Eph. 1: 10. Even the things in heaven so far 
stood in need of a reconciliation, as that they might be gathered 
together in one with the things on earth; the glory whereof is 
manifested in this heavenly ministration. And the apostle affirms that 
the "heavenly things themselves" were purified by the sacrifice of 
Christ, Heb. 9: 23. Not that they were actually defiled in themselves, 
but without this purification they were not meet for the fellowship of 
this mystery in the joint worship of the whole society in heaven and 
earth, by Jesus Christ. Hence, therefore, there is a continual 
manifestation of the glory of God unto the angels themselves. They 
behold his manifold wisdom and grace in the blessed effects of it, 
which were treasured up in the holy counsels of his will from 
eternity. Hereby is their own light and blessedness advanced, and they 
are filled with admiration of God, ascribing praise, honour, and glory 
unto him for evermore; for the beholding of the mystery of the wisdom 
of God in Christ, which is here so despised in the dispensation of the 
gospel, is the principal part of the blessedness of the angels in 
heaven, which fills them with eternal delight, and is the ground of 
their ascribing praise and glory unto him for evermore. 
 This is that manifestative glory wherewith God satisfieth himself, 
until the end determined shall be. On the account hereof he does and 
will bear with things in this world, unto the appointed season. For 
whilst the creation is in its present posture, a revenue of glory must 
be taken out of it for God; and longer than that is done it cannot be 
continued. But the world is so full of darkness and confusion, of sin 
and wickedness, of enmity against God, - is so given up to villany, 
unto all the ways whereby God may be dishonoured, - that there is 
little or no appearance of any revenue of glory unto him from it. Were 
it not on the secret account of divine wisdom, it would quickly 
receive the end of Sodom and Gomorra. The small remnant of the 
inheritance of Christ is shut up in such obscurity, that, as unto 
visible appearance and manifestation, it is no way to be laid in the 
balance against the dishonour that is done unto him by the whole 
world. But whilst things are in this posture here below, God has a 
solemn honour, glory, and worship above, in the presence of all his 
holy ones; wherein he resteth and takes pleasure. In his satisfaction 
herein he will continue things in this World unto all the ends of his 
wisdom, goodness, righteousness, and patience, let it rage in villainy 
and wickedness as it pleaseth. And so, when any of the saints who are 
wearied, and even worn out, with the state of things in this world, 
and, it may be, understand not the grounds of the patience of God, do 
enter into this state, they shall, unto their full satisfaction, 
behold that glory which abundantly compensates the present dishonour 
done to God here below. 
 (2.) This state of things is continued for the glory of Christ 
himself. The office of Mediator was committed by God the Father unto 
his only-begotten Son, - no other being able to bear or discharge it. 
See Isa. 9: 6; Rev. 5: 1-5. But in the discharge of this office it was 
necessary he should condescend unto a mean and low condition, and to 
undergo things difficult, hard, and terrible, Phil. 2: 6-8. Such were 
the things which our Lord Jesus Christ underwent in this world; - his 
undergoing of them being necessary unto the discharge of his office; 
yea, it consisted therein. Herein was he exposed unto reproach, 
contempt, and shame, with all the evils that Satan or the world could 
bring upon him. And besides, he was, for us and in our stead, to 
undergo the "curse of the law," with the greatest of terror and 
sorrows in his soul, until he gave up the ghost. These things were 
necessary unto the discharge of his office, nor could the salvation of 
the church be wrought out without them. But do we think that God would 
commit so glorious an office unto his only Son to be discharged in 
this manner only? Let it be granted that after he had so accomplished 
the will of God in this world, he had himself entered into glory; yet 
if he should so cease the administration of his office, that must be 
looked on as the most afflictive and dolorous that ever was undergone. 
But it was the design of God to glorify the office itself; as an 
effect of his wisdom, and himself therein; yea, so as that the very 
office itself should be an everlasting honour to his Son as incarnate. 
Unto this end the administration of it is continued in glory in his 
hand, and he is exalted in the discharge of it. For this is that glory 
which he prays that all his disciples may be brought unto him to 
behold. The time between his ascension and the end of all things is 
allotted unto the glory of Christ in the administration of his office 
in the heavenly sanctuary. And from hence does the apostle prove him, 
"as a high priest," to be far more glorious than those who were called 
unto that office under the law, Heb. 8: 1-3. Herein it is manifest 
unto angels and men, how glorious a thing it is to be the only king, 
priest, and prophet of the church. Wherefore, as it behaved Christ, in 
the discharge of his office, to suffer; so, after his sufferings in 
the discharge of the same office, he was to enter into his glory, Rev. 
1: 18. 
 (3.) God has respect herein unto those who depart in the faith, in 
their respective generations, especially those who died betimes, as 
the apostles and primitive Christians. And sundry things may be herein 
 [1.] There are two things which believers put a great price and 
value on in this world, and which sweeten every condition unto them. 
Without them the world would be a noisome dungeon unto them, nor could 
they be satisfied with a continuance therein. The one is the service 
of Christ. Without an opportunity of being exercised herein, they 
could not abide here with any satisfaction. They who know it not so to 
be, are under the power of worldly-mindedness. The meanest service of 
Christ has refreshment in it. And as to those who have opportunities 
and abilities for great instances of service, they do not know on just 
grounds, nor are able to determine themselves, whether it be best for 
them to continue in their service here below, or to enter into the 
immediate service of Christ above; - so glorious, so excellent is it 
to be usefully serviceable unto the Lord Jesus. So was it with the 
apostle, Phil. 1: 21-26; - so may it be with others, if they serve him 
in the same spirit, with the same sincerity, though their ability in 
service be not like unto his. For neither had he anything but what he 
received. Again, they have the enjoyment of Christ in the ordinances 
of Gospel worship. By these means do they live, - in these things is 
the life of their souls. 
 In this state of things God will not call them hence unto their 
loss; he will not put an end unto these privileges, without an 
abundant recompense and advantage. Whatever we enjoy here, yet still 
to depart hence and to be with Christ shall be far better, Phil. 1: 
23. For, - 
 1st, although service here below shall cease, and be given over unto 
other hands who are to have their share herein; yet, on the 
continuance of this state of things in heaven, there is also a 
continuation of service unto Christ, in a way inexpressibly more 
glorious than what we are in this life capable of. Upon their 
admittance into this state of things above, they are before the throne 
of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth 
on the throne shall dwell among them, Rev. 7: 15. The whole state of 
the glorious worship of God before described is here respected; and 
herein is a continual service performed unto him that sits on the 
throne, and unto the lamb. Wherefore it is so far from being loss, in 
being called off from service here below, as that, in point of service 
itself, it is an inconceivable advancement. 
 2dly, The enjoyment of Christ in and by the ordinances of his 
worship, is the immediate fountain and spring of all our refreshments 
and consolations in this world, Ps. 87: 7; but what is it unto the 
blessed immediate enjoyment of him in heaven! Hence the blessedness of 
the state above is described, by being with Christ, being with Christ 
forever in the presence and immediate enjoyment of him. The light of 
the stars is useful and relieving in a dark night as we are on our 
way; but what are they when the sun ariseth! Will any man think it a 
loss that, upon the rising of the sun, they shall not enjoy their 
light any more, though in the night they knew not what to have done 
without it? It may be we cannot conceive how it will be best for us to 
forego the use of sacraments, ministry, and the Scripture itself. But 
all the virtue of the streams is in the fountain; and the immediate 
enjoyment of Christ unspeakably exceeds whatever by any means we can 
be made partakers of here below. 
 In this blessed state have the holy apostles, all the primitive 
martyrs and believers, from the time of their dissolution, enjoyed 
full satisfaction and solace, in the glorious assembly above, Rev. 7: 
15-17, &c 
 [2.] Hereby there is a continuation of communion between the church 
triumphant above and that yet militant here below. That there is such 
a communion between glorified saints and believers in this world, is 
an article of faith. Both societies are but one church, one mystical 
body, have one Head, and a mutual concernment in each other. Yea, the 
spring and means of this communion is no small part of the glory of 
the gospel. For, - before the saints under the Old Testament had the 
mystery of the glory of God in Christ, with our redemption thereby, 
revealed unto them, in the way before declared, - the communion was 
very obscure; but we are now taken into the light and glory of it, as 
the apostle declares, Heb. 12: 22-24. 
 I know some have perverted the notions of the communion unto 
idolatrous superstition; and so have all other truths of the gospel 
been abused and wrested, unto the destruction of the souls of men; - 
all the Scriptures have been so dealt withal, 2 Pet. 3: 16. But they 
deceived themselves in this matter, - the truth deceiveth none. Upon a 
supposition of communion, they gathered that there must of necessity 
be an immediate communication between them above and us below. And if 
so, they knew no way for it, no means of it, but by our praying unto 
them, and their prayer for us. But they were under the power of their 
own deceivings. Communion does not require immediate mutual 
communication, unless it be among persons in the same state, and that 
in such acts as wherein they are mutually assisting and helpful unto 
one another. But our different states will admit of no such 
intercourse; nor do we stand in need of any relief from them, or can 
be helped by any acts of their love, as we may aid and help one 
another here below. Wherefore the centre of this communion is in 
Christ alone and our exercise of it is upon him only, with respect 
unto them. 
 Yet hereon some deny that there is any such communion between the 
members of the church or the mystical body of Christ in these diverse 
states. And they suppose it is so declared in that of the prophet, 
Isa. 63: 16, "Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be 
ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not." But there is nothing 
of any such importance in these words. The church, under a deep sense 
of its present state, in its unworthy walking and multiplied 
provocations, profess themselves to be such, as that their forefathers 
in covenant could not own them as their children and posterity in the 
faith. Hereupon they appeal unto the infinite mercy and faithfulness 
of God, which extend themselves even unto that condition of 
unworthiness which was enough to render them utterly disowned by the 
best of men, however otherwise concerned in them. But to suppose the 
church above, which has passed through its course of faith and 
obedience in afflictions, tribulations, and persecutions, to be 
ignorant of the state of the church here below in general, and 
unconcerned in it, - to be without desires of its success, 
deliverance, and prosperity, unto the glory of Christ, - is to lay 
them asleep in a senseless state, without the exercise of any grace, 
or any interest in the glory of God. And if they cry for vengeance on 
the obdurate persecuting world, Rev. 6: 10, shall we suppose they have 
no consideration nor knowledge of the state of the church suffering 
the same things which they did themselves? And, to put it out of 
question, they are minded of it in the next verse by Christ himself, 
verse 11. 
 But that which at present I alone intend, is the joint communion of 
the whole church in the worship of God in Christ. Were all that die in 
the Lord immediately received into that state wherein God "shall be 
all in all,"--without any use of the mediation of Christ, or the 
worship of praise and honour given unto God by him, - without being 
exercised in the ascription of honour, glory, power, and dominion unto 
him, on the account of the past and present discharge of his office, - 
there could be no communion between them and us. But whilst they are 
in the sanctuary, in the temple of God, in the holy worship of Christ 
and of God in him, and we are not only employed in the same work, in 
sacred ordinances suited unto our state and condition, but, in the 
performance of our duties, do by faith "enter in within the veil," and 
approach unto the same throne of grace in the most holy place, there 
is a spiritual communion between them and us. So the apostle 
expresseth it, Heb. 12: 22-24. 
 [3.] It is the way that God has appointed to prepare the holy souls 
above for the enjoyment of that eternal state which shall ensue at the 
end of all things As we are here, in and by the Word and other 
ordinances, prepared and made meet for the present state of things in 
glory; so are they, by the temple-worship of heaven, fitted for that 
state of things when Christ shall give up the kingdom unto the Father, 
that God may be all in all. 
 (4.) Respect is had herein unto the faith of the church yet militant 
on the earth, and that, among others, in two things. 
 1st, For the encouragement of their faith. God could, as we have 
observed, upon the supposition of the atonement and reconciliation 
made by the blood of Christ, have saved the church by mere sovereign 
act of power. But whereas it was unto his glory that we should be 
saved in the way of faith and obedience, this way was necessary unto 
our encouragement therein. For it is in the nature of faith, it is a 
grace suited unto that end, to seek for and receive aid, help, and 
relief, from God continually, to enable us unto obedience. 
 For this end the Lord Christ continueth in the discharge of his 
office, whereby he is able to save us unto the uttermost, that we may 
receive such supplies by and from him. The continual use that faith 
makes of Christ unto this purpose, as he gloriously exerciseth his 
mediatory office and power in heaven, cannot fully be declared. 
Neither can any believer, who is acted by present Gospel light and 
grace, conceive how the life of faith can be led or preserved without 
it. No duties are we called unto, - no temptation are we exercised 
withal, - no sufferings do we undergo, - no difficulties, dangers, 
fears, have we to conflict withal, - nothing is there in life or 
death, wherein the glory of God or our own spiritual welfare is 
concerned, - but faith finds and takes relief and encouragement in the 
present mediatory life and power of Christ in heaven, with the 
exercise of his love, care, and compassion therein. So he proposeth 
himself unto our faith, Rev. 1: 17,18. 
 2dly, That our faith may be guided and directed in all our accesses 
unto God in his holy worship. Were nothing proposed unto us but the 
immensity of the divine essence, we should not know how to make our 
approaches unto it. And thence it is that those who are unacquainted 
with the glory of this dispensation, who know not how to make use of 
Christ in his present state for an access unto God, are always 
inventing ways of their own (as by saints, angels, images) for that 
end; for an immediate access unto the divine essence they cannot 
fancy. Wherefore, to end this discourse in one word, - all the present 
faith and worship of God in the church here on earth, all access unto 
him for grace, and all acceptable ascriptions of glory unto his divine 
majesty, do all of them, in their being and exercise, wholly depend 
on, and are resolved into, the continuation of the mediatory actings 
of Christ in heaven and glory. 
 I shall close this discourse with a little review of somewhat that 
passed before. From the consideration of that place of the apostle 
wherein he affirms, that at the end Christ shall give up the kingdom 
unto the Father, I declared that all the state of things which we have 
described shall then cease, and all things issue in the immediate 
enjoyments of God himself. I would extend this no farther than as unto 
what concerneth the exercise of Christ's mediatory office with respect 
unto the church here below, and the enemies of it. But there are some 
things which belong unto the essence of this state which shall 
continue unto all eternity; as, - 
 1st, I do believe that the person of Christ, in and by his human 
nature, shall be for ever the immediate head of the whole glorified 
creation. God having gathered all things unto a head in him, the knot 
or centre of that collection shall never be dissolved. We shall never 
lose our relation unto him, nor he his unto us. 
 2dly, I do therefore also believe, that he shall be the means and 
way of communication between God and his glorified saints for ever. 
What are, what will be, the glorious communications of God unto his 
saints for ever, in life, light, power, joy, rest, and ineffable 
satisfaction, (as all must be from him unto eternity,) I shall not now 
inquire. But this I say, they shall be all made in and through the 
person of the Son, and the human nature therein. That tabernacle shall 
never be folded up, never be laid aside as useless. And if it be said, 
that I cannot declare the way and manner of the eternal communications 
of God himself unto his saints in glory by Christ; I shall only say, 
that I cannot declare the way and manner of his communications of 
himself in grace by Christ unto the souls of men in this world, and 
yet I do believe it. How much more must we satisfy ourselves with the 
evidence of faith alone in those things which, as yet, are more 
incomprehensible. And our adherence unto God, by love and delight, 
shall always be through Christ. For God will be conceived of unto 
eternity according to the manifestation that he has made of himself in 
him, and no otherwise. This shall not be by acting faith with respect 
unto the actual exercise of the mediation of Christ, as now we cleave 
unto God; but it shall be by the all-satisfying acting of love unto 
God, as he has manifested himself, and will manifest himself in 
 3dly, The person of Christ, and therein his human nature, shall be 
the eternal object of divine glory, praise, and worship. The life of 
glory is not a mere state of contemplation. Vision is the principle of 
it, as faith is of the life of grace. Love is the great vital acting 
of that principle, in adherence unto God with eternal delight. But 
this is active in it also. It shall be exercised in the continual 
ascription and assignation of glory, praise, and honour unto God, and 
the glorious exercise of all sorts of grace therein; - hereof the 
Lamb, the person of Christ, is the eternal object with that of the 
Father and the Spirit; the human nature in the Son, admitted into the 
communion of the same eternal glory. 

John Owen, Christologia

(... Conclusion, Owen, Christologia)

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