The Dead Still Speak

John Owen is the subject today.

“No unclean thing, nothing that defileth or is defiled, shall ever be brought into the glorious presence of this holy God.  There is no imagination wherewith mankind is besotted more foolish, none so pernicious, as this, that persons not purified, not sanctified, not made holy in this life should afterward be taken into that state of blessedness which consists in the enjoyment of God.  There can be no thought more reproachful to his glory, nor more inconsistent with the nature of the things themselves, for neither can such persons enjoy him, nor would God himself be a reward unto them.  They can have nothing whereby they should adhere unto him as their chiefest good, nor can they see anything in him that should give them rest and satisfaction, nor can there be any medium whereby God should communicate himself unto them, supposing them to continue thus unholy, as all must do who depart out of this life in that condition.  Holiness, indeed, is perfected in heaven, but the beginning of it is invariably and unalterably confined to this world, and where this fails, no hand shall be put into that work in eternity.”

John Owen, Works (Edinburgh, 1981), III:574-575.

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“Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.”

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“How can we possibly believe the promises concerning Heaven, immortality, and glory, when we do not believe the promises concerning our present life? And how can we be trusted when we say we believe these promises but make no effort to experience them ourselves? It is just here that men deceive themselves. It is not that they do not want the Gospel privileges of joy, peace and assurance, but they are not prepared to repent of their evil attitudes and careless life-styles. Some have even attempted to reconcile these things and ruined their souls. But without the diligent exercise of the grace of obedience, we shall never enjoy the graces of joy, peace and assurance.”

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“I do not understand how a man can be a true believer, in whom sin is not the greatest burden, sorrow and trouble.”

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Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God — that there is still an indisposedness [unwillingness] of spirit unto close walking with him.

What is at the bottom of this distemper?

Is it not their unskillfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love?

So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more.

Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him.

This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him.

If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?

Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.

John Owen, Communion with the Triune Godpp. 126, 128.

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