John Owen.

The works of John Owen (Volume 12) online

. (page 53 of 70)
Online LibraryJohn OwenThe works of John Owen (Volume 12) → online text (page 53 of 70)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

tion of the sons which he sought for, and the honour of his kingdom
which was promised unto him, do all depend on this work, it is no
wonder if his heart were full of it, and that he rejoiced to be en-
gaged in it.

And this frame of heart ought to be in them who under him are
called unto this work. The work itself, we see, is noble and excel-
lent, — such as the Lord Christ carried in his eye through all his suf-
ferings, as that whereby they were to be rendered useful unto the
glory of God and the salvation of the souls of men. And, by his
rejoicing to be engaged in it, he hath set a pattern unto them whom
he calls to the same employment. Where men undertake it tor
" filthy lucre," for self ends and carnal respects, tliis is not to follow
the example of Christ, nor to serve him, but their own bellies. Zeal
for the glory of God, compassion for the souls of men, love to the
honour and exaltation of Christ, ought to be the principles of men
in this undertaking.

Moreover, the Lord Christ, by declaring that he will set forth the
praise of God in the church, manifests what is the duty of the church
itself, namely, to praise God for the work of his love and grace in our


redemption by Christ Jesus. This he promiseth to go before them
in; and what he leads them unto is by them to be persisted in.
This is indeed the very end of gathering the church, and of all the
duties that are performed therein and thereby. The church is called
unto the glory of the grace of God, Eph. i .6, — that it may be set forth
in them and by them. This is the end of the institution of all the
ordinances of worship in the church, Eph. iii. 8-10; and in them do
they set forth the praises of God unto men and angels. This is tiie
tendency ol prayer, the work of faith, the fruit of obedience. It is
a fond imagination which some have fallen upon, that God is not
praised in the church for the work of redemption, unless it be done
by Vvords and hymns particularly expressing it. All praying, all
preaching, all administration of ordinances, all our faith, all our
obedience, if ordered aright, are nothing but giving glory to God lor
his love and grace in Christ Jesus in a due and acceptable manner.
And this is that which ought to be in our design in all our worship
of God, especially in what we perform in the church. To set forth
his praise, to declai'e his name, to give glory unto him by believing,
and the profession of our faith, is the end of all we do. And this
is the first testimony produced by our apostle.

His next is taken from Ps. xviii. 2, " I will put my trust in him."
The whole psalm literally respects David, with his straits and de-
liverances; not absolutely, but as he was a type of Christ, That he
was so the Jews cannot deny, seeing the Messiah is promised on
that account imder the name of David. And the close of the psalm,
treating of the calling of the Gentiles, as a fruit of his deliverance
from sufferings, manifests him principally to be intended. And that
which the apostle intends to prove by this testimony is, that he was
really and truly of one with the sons to be brought unto glory: and
that he doth from hence, inasmuch as he was made and brought into
that condition wherein it was necessary for him to trust in God, and
act in that dependence upon him which the nature of man whilst
exposed unto troubles doth indispensably require. Had he been
only God, this could not have been spoken of him. Neither is tlie
nature of angels exposed to such dangers and troubles as to make it
necessary for them to betake themselves unto God's protection with
respect thereunto. And this the word >^^^, used by the psalmist,
properly signifies, to ' betake a man's self unto the care and protec-
tion of another,' as Ps. ii. ult. This, then, the condition of the Lord
Christ required, and this he did perform. In all the troubles and
difficulties that he had to contend withal, he put his trust in God; as
Isa. 1. 7-9, Ps. xxii. 1 9. And this evinceth him to have been truly
and really of one with the children, his brethren, seeing it was his
duty no less than it is theirs to depend on God in troubles and dis-
tresses. And in vain doth Schlichtiugius hence endeavour to prove


that Clirist was the son of God by grace only, because he is said to
depend on him, which if he had been God by nature he could not
do. True, if he had been God only; but the apostle is now prov-
ing that he was man also, like unto us in all things, sin only ex-
cepted. And as such his duty it was, in all straits, to betake himself
by faith unto the care and protection of God. And some things
may hence also be briefly observed; as, —

I. That the Lord Christ, the captain of our salvation, was exposed
in the days of his flesh unto great ditificulties, anxiety of mind,
dangers, and troubles. This is included in what he here affirms
about putting his trust in God. And they were all typified out by
the oreat suffi. rings of David before he came unto his kingdom. In
the consideration of the sufferings of Christ, men commonly fix their
thoughts solely unto his death. And indeed therein was a recapitu-
lation of all that he had before undergone, with an addition of the
wrath of God. But yet neither are the sufferings of his life to be
disregarded. Such they were as made his whole pilgrimage on the
earth dangerous and dolorous. There was upon him a cohfliifeTTCe of
every thing that is evil or troublesome unto human nature. And
herein is he.pimcipally our example, at least so far that we should
think no kind of sufferings strange unto us.

II. The Lord Christ, in all his perplexities and troubles, betook
himself unto the protection of God, trusting in him. See Isa. 1. 7-9.
And he always made an open profession of this trust, insomuch
that his enemies reproached him with it in his greatest distress,
Matt, xxvii. 43. But this was his course, this was his refuge, wherein
at length he had blessed and glorious success.

III. He both suffered and trusted as our head and precedent.
What he did in both these kinds he calls us unto. As he did, so
must we undergo perplexities and dangers in the course of our pil-
grimage. The Scripture abounds with instructions unto this purpose,
and experience confirms it; and professors of the gospel do but
indulge unto pleasing dreams when they fancy any other condition
in this world unto themselves. They would not be willing, I sup-
pose, to purchase it at the price of inconiormity unto Jesus Christ.
And he is a precedent unto us in trusting as well as in suffering.
As he betook himself unto the protection of God, so should we do
also; and we shall have the same blessed success with him.

There remains yet one testimony more, which we shall briefly
pass through the consideration of: "Behold I and the children
v/hich God hath given me." It is taken from Isa. viii. 18. That it
is a prophecy of Christ which is there insisted on we have proved
at large in our Prolegomena, so that we need not here again farther
to discourse that matter. That which the apostle aims at in the
citation of this testimony, is further to confirm the union in nature.


and the relation that ensues thereupon, between tlie captain of
salvation and the sons to be brouglit unto glory. Now^ as this is
such that thereon he calls them brethren, and came into the same
condition of trouble with them, so they are, by the grant and
appointment of God, his children. Being of the same nature with
them, and so meet to become a common parent unto them all, God,
by an act of sovereign grace, gives them unto him for his children.
This is the aim of the apostle in the use of this testimony unto his
present purpose. In the words themselves we may consider, —

1. That God gives all the sons that are to be hroiight unto
glory to Jesus Christ : ' The Lord hath given them unto me/
"Thine they were," saith he, "and thou gavest them me," John xvii.
6. God having separated them as his peculiar portion, in the eternal
counsel of his will, gives them unto the Sou to take care of them,
that they rnay be preserved and brought unto the glory that he
had designed for them. And this work he testifies that he under-
took ; so that none of them shall be lost, but that, whatever difficul-
ties they may pass through, he will raise them up at the last day,
and give them an entrance into life and immortality.

2. He gives them to him as his cliildren, to he provided for,
and to have an inheritance purchased for them, that they may
become heirs of God and co-heirs with himself. Adam was their
first pai'ent by nattire; and in him they lost that inheritance which
they might have expected by tlie law of their creation. The}' are
therefore given to " the second Adam," as their parent by grace, to
have an inheritance provided for them ; which accordingly he hath
purchased with the price of his blood.

3. That the Lord Christ is satisfied with and rejoiceth in the
portion given him of his Father, his children, his redeemed ones.
This the manner of the expression informs us in, "Behold I and
the children;" though he considers himself and them at tiiat time
as " signs and wonders to be spoken against." He rejoiceth in
his portion, and doth not call it Cabul, as Hiram did the cities
given him of Solomon, because they displeased him. He is not
only satisfied upon the sight of "the travail of his soul," Isa. liii. 1 1,
but glorieth also that "the lines are fallen unto him in pleasantnesses,
that he hath a goodly heritage," Ps. xvi. 6. Such was his love,
such was his grace; for we in ourselves are "a people not to be

4. That the Lord Jesus assumes the children given him of his
Father into the same condition with himself, both as to time and
eternity: "I and the children." As he is, so are they; — his lot is
their lot, his God is their God, his Father their Father, and his
glory shall be theirs.

5. From the context of the words in the prophet, expressing the
VOL. xii.— 28


separation of Christ and the children from the world and all the
hypocrites therein, combined together in the pursuit of their sinful
courses, we are taught that Christ and believers are in the same
covenant, confederate to trust in God in difficulties and troubles, in
opposition unto all the confederacies of the men of the world for
their carnal security

And thus by this triple testimony hath the apostle both confirmed
his foregoing assertion, and further manifested the relation that is
between the children to be brought unto glory and the captain of
tlieir salvation, whereby it became righteous that he should suffer
fur them, and meet that they should enjoy the benefit of his sutier-
ings; which he more fully expresseth in the following verses.

Verses 14 15.

The union of Christ and the children, in their relation unto one
common root and participation of the same nature, being asserted,
the apostle proceeds to declare the ends, use, and necessity of that
union, in respect of the work which God had designed him unto,
and the ends which he had to accomplish thereby. Of these, two he
layeth down in these two verses, namely, the destruction of the devil,
and the delivery thereby of them tJiat were in bondage by reason of
death; neither of which could have been wrought or effected ])ut
by the death of the captain of salvation; which he could not have
undergone, nor would what he could otherwise have done been
profitable unto them, had he not been of the same nature with the
children; as will appear in the opening of the words themselves.

Ver. 14, 15. — 'Ets/ oZv ra vaihia xexcivuvrjTii ffapxh; zai a'i,auTog, xai
avTog 'TrapocTrX'/jaiug /xs-ss^e tuv avruiv, ha dia ro^ Savaroy xarapyrjffr} rhv
TO xpclrog 'iyj^iTO. Toxt %a\iaTO\), tovtsst/, rbv diuCoXov. xai d'TraXXd^i^ rovrovg,
oaoi <p6Zu} '^avdroo did 'xavrog roD ^riv ivoyoi ^aav boxjXiiag.

'Ersi ovv. V. L., "quia ergo;" Bez., "quoniam ergo;" — "because there-
fore." Syr., *^"'f '"'-^, "for seeing," or, "for because;" Eras., " po'^teiiquam
igitur;" ours, "forasmuch then." 'Etts/ is sometimes used for £(p' ov, "post-
quam," "ex quo tempore," "from whence;" so as to express no causality as to
that which follows, but only the precedency of that which it relates unto. But
it is not in that sense used with ovv, which here is subjoined, but fin the sense of]
"quoniam." "quandoquidem;" the particle ovv, "therefore," plainly cxpre.-sing a
caus-.lity. They are well rendered by ours, "forasmuch then," or "therefore."

la, ivoLihict KiKoiuav/iKi cotpfcog kxI cc'ifiocTo;. V. L.. "Pueri communicaverunt
carni et sanguini;" — " The children communicated in flesh and blood." Syr.,
^y^, "The sons wore partakers," or "do partake." Eras., "Commercium habent
cum carneet sanguine;" — "Have communion" (or " commerce") " with flesh and
blood." Bfz., "Pueri participes sunt carnis et sanguinis;" — " The children are p cr-
takers of flesh and blood;" as ours. The Vulgar expresseth the time past, uhit-h
the original requireih. Ethiopia, "He made his children partakers of his flesh
and blood;" wuh rejpect, as it should seem, to the sacrament of the eucharis>t.


K«( ctvrog 'TTupa.Tr'KvKjiux; f^irkax- twj' ocvrZv. V". L., "Et ipse similiter" ("con-
similiter," A. M.,) "participiivit eis lem " Bez., "Ipse quoque consimiliri-r
puticeps factus est eorundem;" as ours, '"He also himself took part of the same "
And the Syr., r?.~r V"t =^~V~f? *''7'^"=7 ^'r '7 "?«; "He himself also, in the same
lkeness"(or "manner"), "was partaker" (or "partook") "in the same," (or
'•self same things.") Arab., "He aUo, like unto them, partook in the piojierties
of the same;" that is, truly partook of flesh ami blood in all their natural or
essential properties. Ethiop., "And he also was maile as a brother unto them."

" l'j» otcc ^xuocrov. Syr., "C'^Ij "ut per mortem suam," "that by his own
death;" properly as to the sense. KstTosjoyjjaij, V. L., "ilestrueret;" all other
Latin translations, "alioleret" — "that he mi^ht destroy;" .so ours But to (iestroy
resjiects the person; "abolere," in the first place, the power. ToV to Kpurog
iycovrct, rov ^xvoctov. "Euni qui tenebat mortis imperium," Syr., Eras., Vul.; —
"Him that held" (or "had") "the rule of death." Bez., "Eum penes quem est
mortis robur;" — "Him that had the power of death." Ethiop., "The prince nf
death." Tovriart r6> Oix^oT^ov. Syr., >^='-;3 '''"^''^'^ , "which is Satan." Kxl
d'TTx'Khdi.^'/l (some copies read d-jrox-ccrxKhoc^'/j) roi/rovs ocoi. V., "et liberaret i o>:"
Btz., "et liberos redderet eos; " — "and free them," "and make them free." Syr ,
"and loose them."

A/« -TTxurdgrov l^fiv. "Per omne viveresuum," — "whilst they lived," " all their

"Evoxoi '/jaxv lov'hiixg. "Obnoxii erant servituti," Bez. ; "Mancipati erant ser-
vituti;" properly, " Damnates erant servitutis;" — "obnoxious," "subject unto
b n lage."

"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood." This
expression s not elsewhere used in the Scripture. Kotvuviu is to have any thing
whatever in common with another; ix,x.otvuvnrog\i he who hath nothing in fellmv-
ship or common with others. And this word is used in reference unto all sorts
of things, good and bad; as nature, life, actions, qualities, works. Here it inti-
mateth the common and equal share of the children in the things spoken of.
•They are equally common to all. These are axpi, kxI xlf^x, — "flesh and blood;"
that is, human nature, liable to death, misery, destruction. Some would hav,
not the nature of man, but the frail and weak condition of mankind to be intended
in this expression. So Enjedinus, and after him Grotius, who refers us to chap.
V. 7, 1 Tim. iii. 16, 2 Cor. iv. 11, for the connrmation of this sense. But in none
of those places is there mention of " flesli and blood," as here, but only of '• flesh;"
which word is variously used both in the Old Testament and New. Yet in ail i he
places referred unto, it is taken, not for the quality of human life as it is infirm
and weak, but for human nature itself, which is so. As concerning tliat of 1 T,m.
iii. 16, It hath at large been declared. And the design of this place rejects this
gloas, which was invented only to defeat the testimony given in these words unto
the incarnation of the Son of God: for the apostle adds a reason in these ver.-es
why the Lord Christ was so to be of one with the children as to take upon him-
self their nature; which is, because that was subject unto death, which for them
he was to undergo. And -'flesh and blood" are here only mentiiMxd, though ihey
complete not human nature without a rational soul, because in and by them it n
that our nature is subject unto deith. We may only further observe, that the
apostle having especial regard unto the saints under the ol I testament, expressefi
their participation of flesh and blood in the preterperfect tense, or time past: which
by proportion is to be extended to all tliat believe in Christ; unless we shall say
that he hath respect unto the common interest of all mankind in the same nature,
in the root of it; whence God is said of "one blood" to have made th in all.

n«/)«7rA>i(7/w?, we >ee, is rendered by interpreters "similiter," '• consiinibter,"
"eo.leni mo o," "ad eandem similitudinem;" that is, ojxotai, or rov xinov rpoT^ov,


" likewise," or, " after the same manner." And TrupcnrT^'/iaio; is as much as

y,ccTx 'TriuToi o,u.oiou verse 17, — " every way like." Here it is restrained by run
eivTuv, '-the same;" that is, flesh and blood, human nature. As to the human
nature, h^ was every way as the children.

Mmo-pcf, " partem habuit," " particeps erat," — " he took part." And in the use
of this word the dative case of the person is still understood, and sometime.s
expressed. So Plato, "Iwa S15 i^iriy,ot rZv -x-pety/^xruv avrolg, — "That he might
share " (or " partake") " in the same acts with them." And it is here also under-
stood, ' That he might partake with them of flesh and blood.' And the apostle
purposely changeth the word from that which he had before used concerning
the children, Ksy.otuuvny.s roc. 'TTu.i'hioC; — they had human nature in common; they
were men, and that was all, having no existence but in and by that nature. Con-
cerning him, he had before proved that he had a divine nature, on the account
■whereof he was more excellent than the angels; and here he says of him, ,uiri(r)(,s,
— existing in his divine nature, he moreover took part of human nature with them ;
which makes a diff'erence beiween their persons, though as to human nature they
were every way alike. And this removes the exception of Schlichtingius, or Crel-
lius, that he is no more said to be incarnate than the children.

"That by death >cetrix,py/i(!Yj" This word is peculiar to Paul; he useth it
almost in all his epistles, and that frequently. Elsewhere it occurs but once in
the New Testament (Luke xiii. 7), and that in a sense whereunto by him it is not
applied. That which he usually intends in this word, is to make a thing or person
to cease as to its present condition, and not to be what it was. So Rom. iii. 3, Ms;
i) at.77Kjriai. ccvruv r'/iv Tri'aTiv rev Qiou Kara-pyvtaii', — " Shall their unbelief make the
faith of God of none effect ?" cause it to cense, render the promise useless. And
verse 31, No,£«oj/ ovv x.ot.rot,pyov^iv "htoi rvig viaricai ; — " Do we make the law void by
faith?" take away its use and end. Chap. iv. 14, Kot.rispynrot.i ij Wuyyi'Kioi,, —
"The promise is made ineffectual." Chap. vii. 2, 'Eaj/ Ss dira^acvn 0' d.v'i]p, Ktx.rT,p-
ynra.t axo rov vo^ov, — " If her husband is dead, she is freed from the law," the
law of the husband hath no more power over her. So verse 6; 1 Cor. xiii. S,
10, 11, XV. 24, 26; 2 Cor. iii. II, 13; Gal. iii. 17, v. 4, 11; Eph. ii. 15. The
intention of the apostle in this word is the making of any thing to cease, or to be
void as to its former power and efficaty; not to remove, annihilate, or destroy
the essence or being of it. And the expression here used is to the same purpose
with that in Ps. viii. 3, ^7^^^ ^t^ '"^'"rr"?, — " to quiet" or "make to cease the
enemy and self-avenger."

ToV TO Kptiro; 'ixouru rov ^etvirov. Kpxrog is properly "vis," " robur," "po-
tentia," " force," " strength," " power," like that of arms, or armies in battle.
And sometimes it is used for rule, e iipire, and authority. 'Ev x.pu,rit iiuxt, is to
be in place of power; and y.pxro; epc-'"} 's to be able to dispose of what it relates
unto. And in both senses we shall see that the devil is said to have Kpocrog rov
dduxrov, " the power of death."

Now, there is not any notion under which the devil is more known unto or
spoken of among the Jews, than this of his having the power of death. His
common appellation among them is, n-,?:n -s'-sw, — "the angel of death;" and they
call him Samael also. So the Targum of Jonathan, -{slstt ^sao ri srns mm
^ snw-r, Gen. iii. 6, — "And the woman saw Samael, the angel of death." And
Maimon. More Nebuch. lib. ii., cap. xxx., tells us from the Midrash that Samael
rode upon the serpent when he deceived Eve; that is, used him as his instiument
in that work. And most of them acknowledge Satan to be principally intended
in the temptation of Eve, though Aben Ezra deidesit in his comment on the words,
and disputes against it. And he adds, that by Samael, the angel of death, they
understand Satan: which he proves from the words of their wise men, who say in
some places that Satan would have hindered Abraham from sacrificing of Isaac,


and in others that Samael would have done it; which proves that it is one and the
saniH who by both names is intended. And hence they u-ually call him i"W-n ha'co
c^ir- ■js rs"*, — " the wicked Samad, the prince of all the devils;" and say of him,
n-sViy "-35 t;m!3 D"'^5 'JS'io, — " Samael brought death itpon all the world." So that
by this Samael, or angel of death, it is evident that they intend him wiio is
termed o 5/«€o7iOf, as the prince and ruler of the rest. So also they speak ex-
pressly in Bava Bathra, Distinc. Hashatephir: nwn -jsV^i s"- yjs s:r; ■(■.r2ia "^s
y^n IS'' snn; — "Rabbi Simeon said, the same is Satan, and the angel of death,
and the evil figment;" that is, the cause and author of it. And they call him
the angel of death on many accounts, the consideration whereof may give us some
light into the reason of the expression here used by the apostle. The is
that beiore mentioned, namely, that by his means death entered and came upon
all the world. His temptation was the first occasion of death; and for that
reason is he termed by our Saviour, ' AudpcovroKTovo; oLtt dpx'^?, John viii. 44, " A
murderer from the beginning." And herein he had the power of death, prevail-
ing to render all manknul obnoxious to the sentence and stroke of it. Secondly,
Because he is employed in great and sigiial judgments to inflict death on men.
He i.s the head of those ^^^1 ^^?."^, "evil angels," who slew the Egyptians, Ps.
Ixxviii. 49. So in Ps. xci. f, these words, "Thou shalt not fear D's'v ri1:>; "~:?,"
" irom the arrow that fheth by day," are rendered by the Targum, -s's':! s*'; "p
N'2^-'3 ^Ti'i snw, "from the arrow of the angel of death, which he shooteth by
day." And in the next verse these words, ^11^'j ~'^'^\^'-?^^. , "from the destruc-
tion that wasteth at noonday," they render, sin-'-ja i-^Vana-; i^i^'r ry^o>3, " from the
troop of devils that waste at noonday ;" the psalmist treating of great and sud-
den destructions, which they affirm to be all wrought by Satan. And hence
the Hellenists also render the latter place by ZaifiouiO!/ /usan/ictpivov, " the devil at
noonday;" wherein they are followed by the Vulgar Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopia
translations. And this the apostle seems to allude unto, 1 Cor. x. 10, where he
says that those who murmured in the wilderness were destroyed a^ro rov oKo-
^pivrov, "by the destroyer ;" 6 ctyythoq c'hodpivr'/i;, that P"i':n "s'sw, " the desti'oy-
ing angel," or "the angel of death;" as in this epistle he terms him 6 o'Kohiiiuv,
chap. xi. 28. And it may be this is he who is called ^^^ "'"'^r, Job xviii. 13, —
" the first-born of death," or he that hath right unto the administration of it.
They term him also itTOrs, — that is, oho6oivrvi;, " the waster" or " destroyer;" and

Online LibraryJohn OwenThe works of John Owen (Volume 12) → online text (page 53 of 70)