John Owen.

The works of John Owen (Volume 12) online

. (page 1 of 70)
Online LibraryJohn OwenThe works of John Owen (Volume 12) → online text (page 1 of 70)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Sfom f^e feifirarg of

^tC{\xt(Ki?ft^ 6)? ^im to
t^e feifirarp of

(Princeton S^^eofogtcaf ^emindrg














"grace be with all them who love the lord JESUS



12 2 5 SANSOM S T K E E T,



"take heed unto thyself, and unto the
doctrine; continue in them: for in doing



1 Timothy, i v. 16.

This edition of the Woeks of Owen will consist of seventeen
•volumes. The first seven volumes will be the same as the cor-
responding volumes of the London and the Edinburii;h oditidu
of the Rev. W. H. Goold, D.D., 1850. The eighth will he
identical with the eleventh volume of that edition. The ninth
volume will be compiled from the ninth, tenth, and sixteenth
volumes of the same edition. Volumes tenth to the sixteenth
will contain Owen's exposition of the Epistle of St. Paul to the
Hebrews, according to the edition of Dr. Goold. Volume seven-
teen will contain an index to the whole series taken from Dr.
Goold's index as far as applicable, and embracing references to
the matter contained in the Exposition of the Epistle to the


Vol. I. Life of Dr. Owen, by Kev. Dr. Andrew Thomson.

1. On the Person of Christ.

2. Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ.

3. Meditations and Discourses on tlie Glory of Christ applied to

Sinners and Saints.

4. Two Short Catechisms.

" II. 1. On Communion with God.

2. Vindication of the Preceding Discourse.

3. Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity.

" III. Discourse on the Holy Spirit ; His Name, Nature, Personality,
Dispensation, Operations, and Effects — His Work in the Old
and New Creation explained, and the Doctrines Vindicated.
The Nature and Necessity of Gospel Holiness : the difference
between Grace and Morality, or a Sjiiritual Life unto God in
Evangelical Obedience, and a course of Moral Virtues,
stated and declared.

" lY. 1. The Reason of Faith.

2. Causes, "Ways, and Means, of understanding the Mind of

God, as revealed in His Word, with assurance therein.
And a declaration of the perspicuity of the Scriptures,
with the external means of the interpretation of them.

3. On the Work of tne Holy Spirit, in Prayer : with a brief

inquiry 'into the nature and use of ^Mental Prayer and

4. Of the Holy Spirit and His Work, as a Comforter and as tho

Author of Spiritual Gifts.



Vol. V. 1. The doctrine of Justification by Faith.

2. Evidences of the Faith of God's Elect.

" VI. 1. On the Mortification of Sin.

2. On Temptation.

3. On Indwelling Sin in Believers.

4. Exposition of Psalm CXXX.

" VII. 1. On the Nature and Causes of Apostasy, and the Punish-
ment of Apostates.

2. On Spiritual Mindedness.

3. On the dominion of Sin and Grace.

*' VIII. The Doctrine of the Saints' Perseverance explained and con-

" IX. Miscellaneous "Works, Treatises, and Sermons.

1. The Divine Original and Plenary Inspiration of the Scrip-


2. On the Death of Christ.

3. Posthumous and Sacramental Discourses.

" X. Exercitations on the Epistle to the Hebrews.

1. Concerning the Epistle itself.

2. Concerning the Messiah.

3. Concerning the Institutions of the Jewish Church referred

to in the Epistle.
" XI. Exercitations continued.

1. Concerning the Sacramental Office of Christ.

2. Concerning a Day of Sacred Kest.

3. Summary of Observations, drawn from the Exposition of

the Epistle.
" XII.— XVI. An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
" XVII. An Index to the whole Series.




The general scope and design of the apostle in this whole epistle
hath been before declared, and need not here be repeated. In this
first chapter he fixeth and improveth the principal consideration that
he intends to insist on throughout the epistle, — to prevail with the
Hebrews unto constancy and perseverance in the doctrine of the
gospel. And this is taken from the immediate author of it, the
promised Messiah, the Son of God. Him, therefore, in this chapter
he at large describes; and that two ways, — 1. Absolutely, declaring
what he is in his person and offices, as also what he hath done for
the church; and, 2. Comparatively, with respect unto other minis-
terial revealers of the mind and will of God, especially insisting on
his excellency and pre-eminence above the angels, as we shall see in
the explication of the several parts and verses of it.

Verses 1, 2.

Uoy^v/xipcig xrz! ToXorpoVws tcIXui 6 &iog XaX^car roTg rruTpdeiv iv roTc
t^rpofriTccig, lit idy^druv ruv ijf/jipuv Tovriav BXaXriav yj/jLiv ev T/p, ov £dr,Ki
xXrjpovofiov irdvrwVy di' o£ xui roi? aluivag ivbiriGiv.

Many of these words being variously rendered, their true gram-
matical sense and importance is to be considered before we open the
meaning of the whole, and aim of the apostle in them; in which
way we shall also proceed throughout the whole e{)istle.

TlohviA.'.pZir. ym -sM Syr., « in all parts," or " by m;iny parts." « Jlulti-
fariain," Vulg. Eras., A Montan., '• diversely." " Mulns vicibiis," Beza; which
ours render, '' at sundry times." 'Mei'po,uxi is " sortior," " diviilo," " to part," " to
take part," " to divide :" whence is piioo;, " the part of any thing;" and xohv^t-
pvis, " that which consisteth of many parts;" and vo>.vu,spai, " by m.iny parts;"
which is also used as iv ru fcipii, for " alternis vicibus," "sundry changes." The


word properly is, " by many parts," " fully," " by several parts at several times''
as our translation inti nates; yet so th it a diversity of parts anil degrees, rather
than of times ami seasons, is intended.

Keti TTO^yr^oViiUf. i;'?l ''.^=", Syr., " in all forms." " Multisque niodis," Vulg.
Er;is., A. Moiiran., Beza, " many ways;" or as ours, " divers manners."

ri«A«/. ='7PT5, Syr., " a!) initio," "from the beginning." " Olim," the
Latin translation, " of old," "formerly," "in times past." n«X«; is "olim,"
" quondam," " pridem," *' jamdudum," any time past tliat is opposed ra eiprt, or
vvv, to tliat wliich is present, properly time some good while past, as that was
\\ hereof the apostle treats, having ended in Malachi four hundred years before.

To(f varpiAciv. T"^?. °?, Syr., " v.'ith our fathers," " to the fathers."

'E» ral; Trp3(p'/ircii;. **.".???, Syr., " in the prophets." So all the Latin transla-
tions, '■ in prophctis."

'E-TT k(rx»ravruv '/ifx,spuvrovTa». ^'irti? ^r]'J".1 V^iV^-j Syr., " and in those last
days." " Ultimis diehus hisce," " ultimis diebus istis," " in these last days."
" .\ovissime diebus istis," Vulg., — " last of all in these days." Some Greek copies
have iTT if!Y(i.rov ruy '/ly.ipuv rouruv, " in extreme dierum istorum," " in the end of
these days." The reason of which variety we shall se^ afterwards.

'E)/ T/w, as before, "in the prophets; " not "by his Son," but "in the Son."
The emphiisis of the e\-pre.->sion is necessarily to be retained, as the opening of
the words will discover.

Toi/f ociuvx;. " Mundos," "secula." ''^?j'?, Syr., "the ages," " times,"
" uorlds." In the remaining words there is no difficulty, as to the grammatical
signification; we shall then read them,^ —

' Various Readings. — On the authority of manuscripts abdejk, most of
the versions, and the m.ijority of th^^ fathers, Tischendorf, in his second edition of
the New Testament, inserts i<jx<>i-'^(tv in the text. In mo^^t critical editions since
the time of Bengel, the same reading has been preferred and adopted. Our author
h'lnself, to judge from a remark which he makes in the course of expositiorj, had
a decided leaning to it.

Exposition. — n. x-a.) tc. " Of the two modes of interpreting these words, I
rarher preCer that which separates them, and gives a distinct meaning to each:
' God. who in ancient times made communications to tlie fathers by the projihets,
in sundry parts and in various ways, has now made « revelation to us by his Son;'
i. e., he has completed the whole revelation which he intends to make under the
new dispensation bv his Son, his Son onlij, and not l)y a long-cont'mued series of
prophets, ;is of old." — Stuart. " They have been considered merely a rhetorical
amplification, " — Tkoluch. " Tiohvfupai means, not ' many times.' but ' manifoldly,
in many parts.' The antithesis is not that God ha< spoken often by the prophets,

but only once by his Son; the opposition is Ixtween the dbtribution of

the Old Testament revelation among the prophets, and the undivided fulness of
the New Testament iwel.ition by Christ." — Ebrard.

'Et' i(T)c- f^v ijfi. "Under the last period, viz,, of the Messiah." — Stuart.
"On the confines of the former perio f, and of the new everlasting epoch; not
within the latter, and also not within the former." — Tholuck. " '1 he end of this
time, in refei'ence to the ta- s'"y of the Jews, the period of the world which pre-
ceded the coming of Christ, whose work was to form the tr.insition from it to
the period terminating in the resurrection." — Ebrard^ '' The period of the
gospel, the last dispensation of God." — Bloomjield.

'iB.v Tiu. A specimen of the arbitrary use of the article, for " Tlu is mo-
nadic: it designates one individual peculiarly distinguished, and the pronoun
etvTou is omitted after it; on all which accounts, according to theory, the article
should be added. "^ — Stuart. "'God spake to us by one who was Son,' who
stood not in the relation of prophet, but in the relation of Son to him. If it
were su ru T/i, then Christ would be placed as this individual, in opposition to
the indiviluals of the prophets; but as the article is wanting, it is the species that
is placed in opposition to the species, although, of course, Christ is the sitigle iudi-


Ver. 1, 2. — By sundry parts, and in divers manners, God
having formerly [or, of old] spoken unto the hit hers in
the prophets, liath in these last days spoken unto us in
the Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all, by whom
also he made the worlds.

The apostle intending a comparison between the Mosaical law
and the gospel, referreth it unto two heads, — first, Tlieir revelation
and institution, whence the obligation to the observance of the one
and the other did arise; and, secondly, Their whole nature, use, and
efjicacy. The first he enters upon in these words, and premising
that wherein they did agree, distinctly lays down the severals
wherein the difference between them doth consist; both which were
necessary to complete the comparison intended.

That wherein they agree is the principal efficient cause of their
revelation, or the prime author from whom they were. This is God.
He was the author of the law and gospel. He spake of" old " in tlie
prophets," he spake in the last days "in the Son." Neither of them
was from Ynen ; not one from one principle, and the other from an-
other, — both have the same divine original. See 2 Tim. iii. lb';
2 Pet. i. 20, 21. Herein they both agree.

Their difference in this respect, namely, in their revelation, lie re-
fers to four heads, all distinctly expressed, saving that some branches
of the antithesis on the part of the gospel are only included in the
opposite expressions that relate unto the law.

Their difference, first, respects the manner of their revelation, and

viiiual of his species." — Ebrard. " Tlog m;iv in this use he consiJered (I'ke
Xp;o-TcV, put for ' O XpwT&iT ToD ©soD) jis an appellative converted inlo a sort of
proper name." — S. e INliddleton on the Greek article, note Matt. i. 1, arxl iv. .3;
Bloornjipld. K'hnpovo^uog " The Son inherited the world neither by lot nor by
the demise of the possessor. Like the Hebrew ^"^l , of which inherit is only a
secondan/ sense, it means to take into possessio7i in any manner." — Stitart. '" The
prophets were heralds of the promised future inheritance; Christ is the heir him-
self The principal idea i>, not that of a possession which any one receives

throuofh the death of another, but a pos^ession which he on his part can transf r
as an inheritance to his yjosterity: consequently a permanent possession, ovtr
which he has full authority " — Ebrard. *' K«i connects a new thought with
Mdiat precedes: the same bein^- who, according to his divine-human nature, sliall
possess all things in the world, is also, according to his divine natnre, the axithar
of all things." — Tholuck. " A/wy must necessarily .signify the world. Th s is
dc-cisively shown by the parallel passage, Heb. xi. 3, and likewise by that in the
Epi-^tle to the Colossians, i. 15-17, and ipipuv rcc vccvroi. in verse 3." — Tholuck.

Translations. — n. kxI -tt. " Often, and in various ways." — Stuart. " lu
many poriioiis, and in many ways." — Craik.

Toi.c TTccT. " To our fathers." — De Wette.

IlaA. " Sime prmieval \\me?..'' —Tholuck. " In ancient times."- Stuart.

'Ett' e^x,- y- T. X. '• In the end of these days " — Cont/beare and Howson.

'y.v T. " In the person of the Son." — Conybeare and Iloivson.

K>.. " Lord of all tiungs " — Stuart.

Aluv. *• The wor\d."~Stuart. " The universe."— CoHj/6ca>-e and How-
son. — Ed.


that in two particulars: — 1. The revelation of the will of God under
the law was given out by "divers parts;" that under the gospel at
once, or in one dispensation of grace and tmth. 2. That " in divers
manners;" this one way only, by the Spirit dwelling in the Lord
Christ in his fulness, and by him communicated unto his apostles.

Secondly, The times and seasons of their revelation. That of
the law was made " of old," " formerly," "in times past; " this of
the gospel "in these last days."

Thirdly, The persons to whom the revelation of them, was made.
That was to the " fathers," this to " us."

Fourthly, and principally. The persons by whom these revelations
were made. That was by "the prophets;" this by "the Son."
God spake then in the prophets; now he hath spoken in the Son.

The whole stress of the apostle's argument lying on this last in-
Btance, omitting the prosecution of all the other particulars, he enters
upon the further description of this immediate revealer of the gospel
in whom God spake, the Son, and lays down in general, 1. The
authority committed unto him, — God made him "heir of all;" 2.
The ground and equity of committing that great power and trust unto
him, in these words, "By whom also he made the worlds:" whereby
he opens his way to the further declaration of his divine and incom-
parable excellencies, wherein he is exalted far above all or any that
were employed in the revelation or administration of the law of
Moses, and the holy worship instituted thereby.

All these particulars must be opened severally, that we may see
the intendment of the apostle, and the force of his argument in the
whole; and some of them must necessarily be somewhat largely
insisted on, because of their influence into the ensuing discourse.

That wherein the law and gospel do both agree is, that God
was the author of them both. About this there was
no difference as to the most of them with whom the
apostle treated. This he takes for granted. For the professing
Jews did not adhere to Mosaical institutions because God was their
author, not so of the gospel ; but because they were given from God
by Moses in such a manner as never to be changed or abrogated.
This the apostle lays down as an acknowledged principle with the
most, that both law and gospel received their original from God
himself; proving also, as we shall see in the progress of our discourse,
to the conviction of others, that such a revelation as that of the
gospel was foretold and expected, and that this was it in particular
which was preached unto them.

Now, God being here spoken of in distinction from the Son ex-
pressly, and from the Holy Ghost by evident implication, it being
he by whom he spake in the prophets, that name is not taken
oiitfiudus, substantially, to denote primarily the essence or being of


the Deity, and each person as partaking in the same nature but
iToaruriKiJg, denoting primurily one certain person, and the divine
nature only as subsisting in that person. This is the person of the
Father; as elsewhere the person of the Son is so signified by that
name, Acts xx. 28; John i. 1; Rom. ix. 5; 1 Tim. iii. Hi;
1 John iii. 16, v. 20; — as also the person of the Holy Spirit, Acts v.
3, 4; 1 Cor. xii. 6, 11 ; Col. ii. 2. So that God, even the Father,
by the way of eminency, was the peculiar author of both law and
gospel; of which afterwards. And this observation is made neces-
sary from hence, even because he immediately assigns divine pro-
perties and excellencies unto another person, evidently distinguished
from him whom he intends to denote by the name God in this place;
which he could not do did that name primarily express, as here
used by him, the divine nature absolutely, but only as it is subsist-
ing in the person of the Father.

From tliis head of their agreement the apostle proceeds to the
instances of the difference that was between the law and the gospel
as to their-revelation from God ; of which, a little inverting the order
of the words, we shall first consider that which concerns the times
of their giving out, sundry of the other instances being regulated

For the first, or the revelation of the will of God under the old
testament, it was, "of old." God spake rrdXai, "for-
merly," or "of old." Some space of time is denoted
in this word which had then received both its beginning and end,
both which we may inquire after. Take the word absolutely, and
it comprises the whole space of time from the giving out of the first
promise unto that end which was put unto all revelations of public
use under the old testament. Take it as relating to the Jews, and
the rise of the time expressed in it is the giving of the law by i\Ioses
in the wilderness. And this is that which the apostle hath respect
unto. He had no contest with the Jews about the first promise,
and the service of God in the world built thereon, nor about their
privilege as they were the sous of Abraham ; but only about their
then present church privilege and claim by Moses' law. The proper
date, then, and bound of this ^aXa/, "of old," is from the giving out
of Moses' law, and therein the constitution of the Judaical church
and worship, unto the close of public prophecy in the days of
Malachi. From thence to the days of John Baptist God granted
no extraordinary revelation of his will, as to the standing use of the
whole church. So that this dispensation of God speaking in the
prophets continued for the space of twenty-one jubilees, or near
eleven hundred years. That it had been now ceased for a long time
the apostle intimates in this word, and that agreeably to the con-
fessed principles of the Jews; whereby also he confirmed his cwn of


the coming of the Messiah, by the reviving of the gift of prophecy,
as was foretold, Joel ii. 28, 29.

And we may, by the way, a little consider their thoughts in this
matter; for, as we have observed and proved before, the apostle
engageth with them upon their own acknowledged principles. "The
Jews, then, generally grant, unto this day, that prophecy for the
public use of the church was not bestowed under the second temple
after the days of Malachi, nor is to be expected until the coming of
Elias. The delusions that have been put upon them by impostors
they now labour all they can to conceal ; and they are of late, by ex-
perience, made incredulous towards such pretenders as in former ages
they have been brought to much misery by. Now, as their manner
is to fasten all their conjectures, be they true or false, on some place,
word, or letter of the Scripture, so have they done this assertion
also. Observing or supposing the want of sundry things in the
second house, they pretend that want to be intimated. Hag. i. 7, 8,
v/here God, promising to glorify himself in that temple, the word 1^^^,
'I will glorify,' is written defectively, without n, as the Keri notes.
That letter, being the numeral note of five, signifies, as they say,
the want of five things in that house. The first of these was, P"iX
D"'n'n31, — 'the ark and cherubim;' the second, nntJ'on JDC', — 'the
anointing oil;' the third, 'naiyon ^vy, — 'the wood of disposition,' or
'perpetual fire;' the fourth, D'^Dim D''"i1K, — 'Urim and Thummim ;'
the fifth, Ulpn nil, — 'the Holy Ghost,' or 'Spirit of prophecy.'
They are not, indeed, all agreed in this enumeration. The Talmud
in KOI"", Joma, cap. v., reckons them somewhat otherwise: — 1. The
ark, with the propitiatory and cherubim; 2. The fire from heaven,
vvhich answers the third, or wood of disposition, in the former order;
S. The divine Majesty, in the room of the anointing oil; 4. The
Holy Ghost; 5. Urim and Thummim. Another order there is, ac-
cording to Rabbi Bechai, Comment, in Pentateuch., sect. t'J*'"!;
who places the anointing oil distinctly, and confounds the ^3''3E^•, or
'divine Majesty,' with ti'npn nin, 'the Holy Ghost,' contradicting the
Gemara. The commonly approved order is that of the author of
Aruch, in the root ^32 : —

"nns nnai nmss piN, — 'the ark, propitiatory, and cherubim, one.'
"••JK^ nratr, — 'the divine Majesty, the second thing.'
""Cii^c nxuj ii.)n\y ^npn nn, — 'the Holy Ghost, which is prophecy,
the third.'

"T2"i D"'»ini Dnis, — 'Urim and Thummim, the fourth thing.'
"•'[^'non D"'CK'n ]d t'X,— 'fire from heaven, the fifth thing.'
"But as this argument is ridiculous, Ijoth in general in wire-draw-
ing conclusions from letters deficient or redundant in writing, and
in particular in reference to this word, which in other places is
written as in this, as Num. xxiv. 11, 1 Sam. ii. 30, Isa Ixvi. 5; so


the oliseivaTion itself of the want of all these five thino-s in the
second house is very questionable, and seems to be invented to t,dve
CDuntenance to the confessed ceasing of prophecy, by which their
church had been planted, nourished, and maintained, and now, by
its want, was signified to be near expiration. For although I will
grant that they might offer sacrifices with other fireth;in that whicii
was traduced from the flame descending from heaven, though NaiJal)
and Abihu were destroyed for so doing, because the law of that tire
attended the giving of it, whence upon its providential ceasing, it
was as lawful to use other fire in sacrifice as it was before its mvin"
out; yet as to the ark, the Urim and Thummim, the matter is more
questionable, and as to the anointing oil out of question, because it
being lawful for the high priest to make it at any time, it was no
doubt restored in the time of Ezra's reformation. 1 know Abarbanel,
on Exod. XXX. sec. Sti'n, affirms that there was no high priest
anointed with oil under the second house; for which he gives this
reason, nriK^on pa' TJJ3 n''n "I23:r ^sb, ' Because the anointing oil was
now hid;' D''K'npn nnmn 1«C Dy WCr^X'' inJC^, 'for Josiah had hid it
with the rest of the holy things;' a Talmudical figment, to which he
adds, "inv^i'y^ r\)Un nth rrri i6\, 'and they had no power to make it.'
I will not much contend about matter of fact, or what they did:
but that they might have done otherwise is evident from the first
institution of it; for the prohibition mentioned, Exod. xxx. 31, o2,
respects only private persons. And Josephus tells us that Gud
ceased to give answer by Urim and Thummim two hundred years
before he wrote, book iii. chap, viii.; which proves they had it.

" It is indeed certain that at their first return from Babylon they
had not the Urim and Thummim, Ezra ii. 63, — there was no priest
with Urim and Thummim ; yet it doth not appear that afterwards
that jewel, whatever it were, was not made upon the prophecies of
Haoo-ai and Zechariah, whereby the restoration of the temple and
the worship belonging thereunto was carried on to pertection, espe-
cially consi<lering the vision of Zechariah about clothing the high
priest with the robes of liis office, chap. iii. ; after which time it seems

Online LibraryJohn OwenThe works of John Owen (Volume 12) → online text (page 1 of 70)