« PreviousContinue »
better understood. And now and then he has taken the liberty, fora similar reason,of inserting an expressive or animating epithet, justified by the connexion; or turned a sentence merely declarative into an awakening interrogation. Some may think that these liberties are after all too seldom used, while others are ready to entertain a jealousy, when they apprehend that any freedom is taken with an author whom they so much revere. To please all is impossible, while men's ideas of propriety and utility are so various; and, therefore, to attempt it would be a fruitless toil, the offspring of folly, and the parent of disappointment. Suffice it to say, that in the present undertaking the Editor has proposed as the end, the greatest and most general good, and with dependance on the head of all gifts and graces, the blessed and adorable Person, whose glory in the salvation of his people is the sublime and delightful subject of these volumes, he has pursued that end according to the best of his judgment. And he cannot help indulging a pleasing hope, that the cause of truth, the profitable knowledge of God our Savior, the edification of believers, and the increase of fervent love among brethren, will be promoted by the present attempt.
Every one knows, that in all kinds of composition, the article of method is of considerable moment; and there appears to me two extremes into which we are apt to run. The one is the dry, scholastic mode of dividing and subdividing a discourse into bits and crumbs, and often for no other reason than because the subject is capable of being so much divided, or merely because the ideas clothed have some dependance among themselves! And the other, which is at present much more in vogue, is that which affects to discard all signs of order and division, and is content with a cryptic cr hidden method. And here it must be granted, that where the only or principal design of an Author is to amuse and please, the last mode is well adapted to it; but where the judgment,reason, and memory are addressed, as well as the imagination and passions, a moderate use of that method which is open and avowed seems necessary, and more especially is it indispensably so, in such a work as the ensuing exposition. I have, therefore, attempted to avoid both extremes, by adopting a reconciling medium. He who is regardless of the heads and divisions, may pass on, as a traveller who is regardless of the mile-stones on his road, without any inconvenience; while another, who is more observant, is gratified by marking his progress. The judicious and inquisitive will be pleased, I presume, with having the contents of each discourse at the head of it, as a curious traveller is pleased with viewing a well proportioned map of a road which he has not travelled. And through the use of sections, that serve as marks and distances on a map, any head of discussion may be found out with a glance, with the general design and connexion of the whole.
After all, my principal endeavor has been, as undoubtedly it ought to have been, to preserve as much as possible the excellent spirit and unction of the original; that no part of its light or heat be lost, but rather collected, and, as it were, brought into a focus. To succeed in such a design effectually, requires no small preparation. I am convinced, that nothing short of a just, consistent, and comprehensive acquaintance with the gospel; a disinterested and earnest regard to the glory of God; a fervent love to the Redeemer, and the souls of men for his sake; the continual teaching and influences of the Spirit of all grace; a most steady faith in the Divine promises; deep humility and diligent attention in learning the whole revealed will of God; the spirit of prayer and sublime devotion; an experimental foretaste of heavenly bliss and glory; with a delightful mixture of patient hope, submissive longing after the end of faith, and an unwearied prosecution of that end in the use of appointed means: nothing but these qualifications appear necessary to keep pace, if I may so express myself, with the spirit and unction of Dr. OWEN. Alas! how short am I of such a stature! However, according to the talent and measure of faith received, the Lord be praised, it is my sincere desire to serve the best interests of immortal souls, to edify the body of Christ in knowledge and faith, holy love and cbedience, as
the instituted preparatives to the promised everlasting rest and glory.
It has been well observed, that “sentiments of esteem "and veneration, combining with natural curiosity, "prompt us to inquire into the history of those men by “whose writings we have been improved in wisdom "and virtue.” Therefore, the prefixing an account of the most memorable particulars in the life and character of Dr. Owen, will no doubt be acceptable to all intelligent and inquisitive readers of this performance. Though the Editor has availed himself of other sources and hints, which he thought unnecessary to refer to, yet, in comparison, he has done little more than abridge the memoirs already drawn up, prefixed to the Doctor's posthumous sermons and tracts; reduced them to a method a little more distinct and perspicuous, with the addition of a few obvious reflections, which he thought had a tendency to diversify, to enliven, and to improve the narrative.
I have only to add, that from a conviction of the utility of an abridged edition of Dr. OWEN “on the “Hebrews,” with the “preliminary dissertations,” I have had the work in contemplation for some years, and I bless the God of all grace for the pleasure and improvement the undertaking has been the means of affording me; that after I had made some progress therein, with a view to publish it by subscription, I was applied to by the publisher of the Evangelical Library about its being sent into the world through the medium of that repository of valuable and scarce divinity. And I own I was not averse to send it abroad in company with that venerable band of worthies, who, though dead, it is hoped will yet speak, with increasing force, not only to the present, but also to future generations. But, like the other publications in the Evangelical Library, the present work stands entirely detached from all preceding or future volumes, by the judicious mode adopted by the publisher of having double title pages.
This performance is now launched into the world, with earnest prayer to the God of all grace: that both it and every other of the same tendency, may be abundantly owned by him as a means of grace and salvation.
LIFE OF JOHN OWEN, D. D.
$1. Introduction. 52. His pedigree and parentage. 93. His
birth, education, and uncommon application to studies. $4. His youthful vanity. $5. How supported at College. $6. Forced to leave it. Ordained. 57. His great convictions and distress. $8. Disowned of his Uncle, he removes to London.
9. How relieved. $10. His afflictions useful. $11. Settles at Fordham and is married there. $12. Removes to Coggeshall. $13. Becomes more popular. $14. His first acquaintance with Fairfax and Cromwell. Goes to Ireland. $15. To Scotland. $16. Made Vice-chancellor. 917. His prudent and moderate conduct. $18. With due authority. $19. Is hospitable and generous. $20. His exemplary diligence. $31. Retires to Stadham. $22. Is offered preferment. $23. Yet persecuted. $24. Calumniated. $25. Improves his liberty. $26. Opposes the conventicle bill. 527. Noticed by King Charles II. $28. Sickness and death. $29. Character. $30. Epitaph.
§ 1. Doctor John Owen, the celebrated author of the following expository work, was a person confessedly of superior talents, erudition, and piety. This is abundantly witnessed by his cotemporaries, and corroborated by the concessions of those who were enemies to his theological principles. It is to be lamented that the materials requisite to fill up his just character are not more ample; particularly those parts of his private conduct, which could be known but to a few; but which, nevertheless, are the truest indications of those motives that reflect a lustre on actions, which otherwise may appear common. However, we are furnished with as