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greatly err, they will find them peculiarly subservient to spiritual improvement 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 a Christian philosopher* lately departed, 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, in some respects, 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 each of them a virtual system of doctrino-practical divinity. To the intrinsic value of these works there can be no testi
See “Memoir of Rev. Dr Welsh,” by A. Murray Dunlop, Esq. M.P.
mony more striking than the fact that they have been twice republished in our living day; * and the demand for large impressions is a hopeful sign for the theology of the modern ministry. To hold fellowship with a master-mind is one of the best methods for strengthening our own; and there are no better securities against feeble repetitions and dishonest plagiarisms than a genuine scholarship. At the same time, few students are so mighty in the Scriptures as not to feel thankful for a guide at once learned, devout, and lofty-minded ; and the more independent and original a man's turn of thinking is, if he be wise and humble, the more thankful will he be to the systematist who recals him to the analogy of faith, and restrains his speculation within the bounds of truth and soberness. And still more precious and more helpful than profound expositions or suggestive aphorisms, are that habitual elevation of feeling and that abiding fellowship with the Saviour which constitute the power of any pastorate, as well as the life of individual Christianity. In this “spiritual-mindedness” no works are richer than those of Dr Owen; and with all susceptible readers this gives them their indescribable charm. There may be a prevailing feeling of prolixity, and there may be a general lack of eloquent expression, but there is never absent for a moment the evidence of the author's seriousness and personal sanctity.
an elevated table-land, the air is everywhere fresh, ethereal, and bracing; and wherever we catch a glimpse of the writer, we perceive an aspect calm, gentle, grave, and recollected,—the countenance of a pilgrim who in his path through the world is walking in communion with God.
* The edition of 1826 extended to twenty-eight volumes octavo, the first volume containing Mr Orme's careful and minute biography. The more complete edition of 1850–55 is compressed into twenty-four volumes, and has been edited by Dr Goold with vast industry and rare critical exactitude. It contains a short but eloquent Memoir from the pen of Dr Andrew Thomson. It was on the occasion of the appearance of this last edition that most of the above remarks were originally published in "The North British Review."
The Fulness of Scripture. [The last sixteen years of Dr Owen’s life were mainly devoted to his “Exposition of the Hebrews.” It is not only its author's masterpiece, but it is one of the noblest productions of English theology. The most cursory view of its pages is enough to impress any one with some notion of its learning and industry; but, like a pyramid—like London-like a forest or a mountainrange—it needs to be long frequented—it needs to be lived in -in order to get a full conception of its magnitude. The memory, the grasp of mind, the piety, the greatness of soul required for such a work were all colossal; but on this very account it is difficult to give an idea of it by means of extracts. After all, our specimen can only be a chip from Mont Blanc, a brick from the Pyramid. The two following quotations are from passages (ii. 11-13, iii. 15–19) where the commentary expands and glows into something of sermonic warmth and fulness.
God hath filled the Scripture with truth. Hence one said well, “Adoro plenitudinem Scripturarum,” “I reverence the fulness of the Scriptures." Ps. cxxxviii. 2, "He hath magnified his word above all his name ;” or made it more instructive than any
other way or means whereby He hath revealed himself. For not only doth the whole Scripture contain the whole counsel of God concerning His own glory and worship, our faith, obedience, and salvation, but also every parcel of it hath in it such a depth of truth as cannot by us be perfectly searched out. Ps. cxix. 18,“ Open thou mine eyes,” saith the Psalmist, “that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." There are wonderful things in the Word if God be pleased to
FULNESS OF SCRIPTURE.
give us light to see it. It is like a cabinet of jewels, that when you pull out one box or drawer and search into it, you find it full ; pull out another, it is full; and when you think you have pulled out all, yet still there are some secret recesses in the cabinet, so that if
Our apostle seems to have drawn out all the boxes of this cabinet, but making a second search into the words, he finds all these things treasured up which he had not before intimated nor
It was said by some of old, that the “Scripture hath fords where a lamb may wade, and depths where an elephant may swim.” And it is true in respect of the perspicuity of some places and the difficulty of others. But the truth is also, that God hath, in His grace and wisdom, so ordered its concernments that—1. What from the nature of the things themselves, which are suited unto the various states, conditions, and apprehensions of the minds of men ; 2. What from the manner of their expression, on which a character of Divine wisdom is impressed ; 3. What from the authority of God putting itself forth in the whole and every particular; 4. What from its being not only “propositio veritatis,” but “vehiculum gratiæ,”—many, most, yea, all the particular places of it, and passages in it, are such as through which a lamb may wade safely, and an elephant swim without danger of striking against the bottom. Let any lamb of Christ come in that order, with that reverence unto the reading or hearing the Word of God (the Scripture itself I mean) which is required, and he will find no place so dark or difficult but that it will yield him that refreshment which is suited unto him and safe for him, and something of God he will obtain; for either he will find his graces excited, or his mind enlightened, or his conscience peculiarly brought into a reverence of God. And let the wisest, the most learned and experienced person, that seems like an elephant in spiritual skill and strength amongst the flock, come to the plainest place, to search out the mind
and will of God in it, if he be humble as well as learned which if he be not he is not wise—he will scarce boast that he hath been at the bottom of it, and hath perfectly comprehended all that is in it, seeing whatever we have “we know but in part." And they may all of them, elephants and lambs, meet at the same passages of this river that makes glad the city of God, these waters of rest and quietness (Ps. xxiii. 2), where the lambs may wade safely, and the elephants swim together. The poorest of the flock, in the right use of means, may take enough for themselves ; even suitable direction and refreshment from those very places of Scripture, whose depths the learnedest guides of the Church are not able to sound or fathom. Not only in several places, but in the same place, text, or testimony of Scripture, there is food meet for the several ages of Christians, whether babes and children or strong men; with light and direction for all sorts of believers, according to the degrees of their own inward light and grace. It is like manna, which, though men gathered variously according to their strength and appetite, yet every one had that proportion which suited his own eating. When a learned man, and one mighty in the Scriptures, undertakes the consideration of a place of Scripture, and finds, it may be, in the issue, that with all his skill and industry, all his helps and advantages, though attended in the use of them with fervent prayer and holy meditation, he is not able to search it out unto perfection, let him not suppose that such a place will be of no advantage unto them who are not sharers in his advantages, but rather are mean and unlearned; for they may obtain a useful portion for themselves where he cannot take down all. If any one look on this river of God as behemoth on Jordan, “trusting that he can draw it up into his mouth," or take up the whole sense of God in it, he of all others seems to know nothing of its worth and excellency. And this ariseth, as was observed, principally from the things themselves treated of in the Scripture. For divine