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195 science and give him peace with Heaven, the oracle which assured bis spirit will be to him unique in its nature and supreme in its authority, and, a debtor to that scheme to which he owes his very self, like Augustine, and Cowper, and Chalmers, he will join that school where Revelation is absolute, and where “ Thus saith the Lord” makes an end of every matter. And without alleging that a long process of personal solicitude is the only right commencement of the Christian life, it is worthy of remark that the converts whose Christianity has thus commenced have usually joined that theological school which, in “salvation-work,” makes least account of man and most account of God. Jeremy Taylor, and Hammond, and Barrow, were men who made religion their business; but still they were men who regarded religion as a life for God rather than a life from God, and in whose writings recognitions of Divine mercy and atonement and strengthening grace are comparatively faint and rare. But Bolton and Bunyan, and Thomas Goodwin, were men who from a region of carelessness or ignorance were conducted through a long and darkling labyrinth of self-reproach and inward misery, and by a way which they knew not were brought out at last on a bright landing-place of assurance and praise ; and, like Luther in the previous century, and like Halyburton, and Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards, in the age succeeding, the strong sense of their own demerit led them to ascribe the happy change from first to last to the sovereign grace and good Spirit of God. It was in deep contrition and much anguish of soul that Owen's career began; and that creed, which is pre-eminently the religion of a broken hearts,” became his system of theology.
“ Children, live like Christians; I leave you the covenant to feed upon.” Such was the dying exhortation of bim who protected so well England and the Albigenses; and “the covenant" was the food with which the devout heroic lives of that godly time were nourished. This covenant was the sublime staple of Owen's theology. It suggested topics for his parliamentary sermons;—"A Vision of Unchangeable Mercy," and " The Steadfastness of Promises.” It attracted him to that book of the Bible in which the federal economy is especially unfolded. And, whether discoursing on the eternal purposes, or the extent of redemption—whether expounding the Mediatorial office, or the work of the sanctifying Spirit-branches of this tree of life re-appear in every treatise. In such discussions some may imagine that there can be nothing but barren speculation, or, at the best, an arduous and transcendental theosophy. However, when they come to examine for themselves they will be astonished at the mass of Scriptural authority on which they are based; and, unless we greatly err, they will find them peculiarly sub
Federal Theology. 16 of Humanity.
199 science and give him peace with Herren, thermal
conviction of the real value of man his spirit will be to him unique in its
t o ed the idea of humanity as distinct authority, and a debtor to that scheme a vo l im re most pointedly recognises the self, like Augustine, and Comper, and Chil j
lual character and national charthat school where Revelation is absolute, d e la
s for the true development of each, saith the Lord" makes an end of every stat
ns may form members of one great alleging that a long process of personal s ale e
a false uniformity, the cowardly right commencement of the Christian liit's why
ividual vocation, this seems to have that the converts slose Christianity has tlas
* Babel, who would not go out and
a lle usually joined that theological school which, in an
self-devised material unity fell to makes least account of man and most account doulou
, as a witness that such unity never Taylor, and Hammond, and Barmor, vet
ns were forced to pursue their proreligion their business; but still they were mea
n order that they might eventually religion as a life for God rather than a lite fra G
d spiritual unity in the Kingdom of
t whose writings recognitions of Divide mere alma strengthening grace are comparatively fiat alma
ue spirit of Christianity, we cannot ton and Bunyan, and Thomas Goodwin, ve
aded either our plans of colonization, a region of carelessness or ignorance were abl
nce in which man and his works are The Church of the middle ages reittle. The Reformation restored his nulated the mind to search into man
the feeling of the sacredness of the fects on science were long one-sided. holic spirit, the perception of unity e a large survey and a bold and hopevhich seem at first sight to have no
are, however, many indications in the of the present age of a more correct
The experience of the last few years le world grows old, the feeling of race ace are not extinguished, but are perthan ever, and that as races rise in the ir peculiar characteristics are magnified , we trust and we would take the Exhi
industry and art of all nations this year Che nations, though they feel their distinctercise their peculiar gifts most successfully, more separate, but more deeply assured
* to each other, that they are designed
By encouraging the exercise of and reconciling spirit, it has been to the study of the Languages of ndeed of this critical philosophy,
servient to correction and instruction in righteousness. Many writers have done more for the details of Christian conduct; but for purposes of heart-discipline and for the nurture of devout affections, there is little uninspired authorship equal to the more practical publications of Owen. In the Life of that noble-hearted Christian philosopher, the late Dr. Welsh, it is mentioned that in his latter days, besides the Bible, he read nothing but “Owen on Spiritual-Mindedness," and the “ Olney Hymns ;" and we shall never despair of the Christianity of a country which finds numerous readers for his “ Meditations on the Glory of Christ," and his “ Exposition of the hundred and thirtieth Psalm.”
And here we may notice a peculiarity of Owen's treatises, which is at once an excellence and a main cause of their redundancies. So systematic was his mind that he could only discuss a special topic with reference to the entire scheme of truth; and so constructive was his mind, that, not content with the confutation of his adversary, he loved to state and establish positively the truth impugned: to which we may add, so devout was his disposition, that, instead of leaving his thesis a dry demonstration, he was anxious to suffuse its doctrine with those spiritual charms which it wore to his own contemplation. All this adds to the bulk of his polemical writings. At the same time it adds to their value. Dr. Owen makes his reader feel that the point in debate is not an isolated dogma, but a part of the “whole counsel of God;" and by the positive as well as practical form in which he presents it, he does all which a disputant can to counteract the sceptical and pragmatical tendencies of religious controversy. Hence, too, it comes to pass that, with one of the commonplaces of Protestantism or Calvinism for a nucleus, his works are most of them virtual systems of doctrino-practical divinity.
The alluvial surface of a country takes its complexion from the prevailing rock-formation. The Essays of Foster, and the Sermons of Chalmers excepted, the evangelical theology of the last hundred years has been chiefly alluvial; and in its miscellaneous composition the element which we chiefly recognise is a detritus from Mount Owen. To be sure, a good deal of it is the decomposition of a more recent conglomerate, but a conglomerate in which larger boulders of the original formation are still discernible. The sermon-makers of the present day may read Cecil and Romaine and Andrew Fuller; and in doing this they are studying the men who studied Owen. But why not study the original? It does good to an ordinary understanding to hold fellowship with a master mind; and it would greatly freshen the ministrations of our pulpits, if, with the eclectic eye
of modern culture, and with minds alive to our modern exigency, preachers held converse direct with the prime sources of British theology. We could imagine the reader of Boston producing a sermon as good as Robert Walker's, and the reader of Henry producing a commentary as good as Thomas Scott's, and the reader of Bishop Hall producing sketches as good as the “Horæ Homileticæ ;” but we grow sleepy when we try to imagine Scott diluted or Walker desiccated, and from a congregation top-dressed with bone-dust from the “Skeletons," the crop we should expect would be neither fervent Christians nor enlightened Churchmen. And, even so, a reproduction of the men who have repeated or translated Owen, is sure to be commonplace and feeble; but from warm hearts and active intellects employed on Owen himself, we could expect a multitude of new Cecils and Romaines and Fullers.
As North British Reviewers, we congratulate our country on having produced this beautiful reprint of the illustrious Puritan; and from the fact that they have offered it at a price which has introduced it to four thousand libraries, we must regard the publishers as benefactors to modern theology. The editor has consecrated all his learning and all his industry to his labour of love; and, by all accounts, the previous copies needed a reviser as careful and as competent as Mr. Goold. Dr. Thomson's memoir of the author we have read with singular pleasure. It exhibits much research, and a fine appreciation of Dr. Owen's characteristic excellencies, and its tone is kind and catholic. Such reprints, rightly used, will be a new era in our Christian literature. They can scarcely fail to intensify the devotion and invigorate the faculties of such as read them. And if these readers be chiefly professed divines, the people will in the longrun reap the benefit. Let taste and scholarship and eloquence by all means do their utmost; but it is little which these can do without materials. The works of Owen are an exhaustless magazine; and, without forgetting the source whence they were themselves supplied, there is many an empty mill which their garner could put into productive motion. Like the gardens of Malta, many a region, now bald and barren, might be rendered fair and profitable with loam imported from their Holy Land ; and many is the fair structure which might be reared from a single block of their cyclopean masonry.