I have decided to elect John Owen for 08. A year and a half ago I decided to study one theologian for 30 minutes a day for a year. In addition I would read many biographies and studies of their theologies. For the past year and a half I have been learning from and about Jonathan Edwards. We have had wonderful conversations. A February sermon and post will be dedicated to his impact upon me.So a new year was upon me. Surgeon and Owen were the contenders. I kept wavering back and forth between the two. Finally after reading Owen’s work on the person of Christ in November I made my decision. It was thoughts like these that decided my vote:
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 of our love.
It was required that there should be an obedience yielded unto God, bringing more glory unto him than dishonor did arise and accrue from the disobedience of man.
Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, he is, he always hath been, precious – the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls – every thing that is good, useful, amiable, desirable, here or unto eternity. In, from, and by him, is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power, growth, consolation, and joy here; with everlasting salvation hereafter. By him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that woeful apostasy from God, which is accompanied with – which containeth in it virtually and meritoriously – whatever is evil, noxious, and destructive unto our nature, and which, without relief, will issue in eternal misery. By him are they brought into the nearest cognation, alliance, and friendship with God, the firmest union unto him, and the most holy communion with him, that our finite natures are capable of, and so conducted unto the eternal enjoyment of him. For in him “shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory;” (Isa. xlv. 25;) for “Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation;” they “shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end:” verse 17.
My choice was gladdened when I read a book on his theology and life where I read an excerpt from a letter written to a friend when he knew his death was near.
I am going to him whom my soul hath loved, or rather hath loved me with an everlasting love; which is the whole ground of my consolation. The passage [passing away in death] is very irksome and werrisome through strong pain of various sorts which are issued in and intermitting feaver. All things were provided to carry me to London today attending to the advise of my physician, but we were unable to undertake the journey. I am leaving the ship of the church in a storm, but while the great Pilot is in it the loss of a poore under-rower will be inconsideralbe. Live and pray and hope and waite patiently and doe not dispair; the promise stands invincible that he will never leave thee nor forsake thee.
Finally as I began his discourse on the glory of Christ I read:
It will herein, and in the discharge of this duty, be made evident how slight and inconsiderable all these things are from whence our troubles and distresses do arise. For they all grow on this root of an over-valuation of temporal things. And unless we can arrive unto a fixed judgment that all things here below are transitory and perishing, reaching only unto the outward man, or the body, (perhaps unto the killing of it), – that the best of them have nothing that is truly substantial or abiding in them, – that there are other things, wherein we have an assured interest, that are incomparably better than they, and above them, – it is impossible but that we must spend our lives in fears, sorrows, and distractions. One real view of the glory of Christ, and of our own concernment therein, will give us a full relief in this matter. For what are all the things of this life? What is the good or evil of them in comparison of an interest in this transcendent glory? When we have due apprehensions hereof, – when our minds are possessed with thoughts of it, – when our affections reach out after its enjoyments, – let pain, and sickness, and sorrows, and fears, and dangers, and death, say what they will, we shall have in readiness wherewith to combat with them and overcome them; and that on this consideration, that they are all outward, transitory, and passing away, whereas our minds are fixed on those things which are eternal, and filled with incomprehensible glory.
I predict that Owen will trump Edwards in his impact upon my theology. I am excited to learn from him and look forward to sharing his view of God with you.