"To Humble Ourselves Under The Mighty Hand of God"
John Owen Our Guide: The Proper Attitude of The Calvinist
By: Greg Fields
This essay is an attempt, using the great Puritan theologian John Owen as a guide, to present what I have observed to be sadly lacking from professing calvinists in this so called post-modern era of church history. What is urgently needed among brethren who have been gripped by grace, who have (at least) intellectually embraced Reformed theology and Calvinistic soteriology, is a Spirit-wrought, God-centered, Scripturally grounded, and Theologically articulate apprehension of the Fear of God. After writing two previous essays of a polemical nature against the egregious arrogance of some professing "calvinists", I have earnestly desired to write a third essay that would didactically promulgate the essence of authentic Biblical Calvinism. Recently, I have been reading and meditating upon two striking passages from Owen's magisterial seven volume An Exposition of the Epistle to The Hebrews that majestically encapsulate this essence. I will defer to that "mighty Apollos among the Puritans" as commentary on this vital matter. I will use ellipses to endeavor to capture the kernel of Owen's exposition. The passages are contained in Volume III of The Banner of Truth Trust Edition of 1991.It is my earnest prayer that these sublime words will humble your heart, illumine your mind, and ignite your will to live Soli Deo Gloria.To wit:
"First, let us exercise ourselves unto holy thoughts of God's infinite excellencies. Meditation, accompanied with holy admiration is the fountain of this duty. Some men have over busily and curiously inquired into the nature and properties of God, and have foolishly endeavoured to measure infinite things by the miserable short line of their own reason, and to suit the deep things of God unto their own narrow apprehensions.................Our duty lies in what God hath revealed of Himself in His Word..........with holy admiration ,reverence, and fear.............Heb. xii. 28,29.In this way serious thoughts of God's excellencies and properties, His greatness, immensity, self-sufficiency, power, and wisdom, are exceedingly useful unto our souls. When these have filled us with wonder, when they have prostrated our spirits before Him, and laid our mouths in the dust and our persons on the ground, and when the glory of them shines round about us, and our whole souls are filled with astonishment, then,- Secondly, let us take a view of ourselves, our extract, our frailty, our vileness on every account. How poor, how undeserving are we! What a little sinful dust and ashes, before or in the sight of this God of Glory? What is there in us, what is there belonging unto us, that is not suited to abase us;-alive one day, dead another; quiet one moment, troubled another; fearing caring, rejoicing causelessly, sinning always; in our best condition "altogether vanity?"...............in ourselves we are inexpressibly miserable, and,............."less than vanity and nothing."..................Thirdly, let the result of these thoughts be a holy admiration of God's infinite love, care, grace, and condescension, in having any regard unto us.........Hence will praise, hence will thankfulness, hence will self-abasement ensue." (pages 352-353,emphasis added)
"Now,.............,we may learn,-...to admire the riches of the grace of God, which hath provided so great salvation for poor sinners.........Nothing could be abated without our eternal ruin. But when divine wisdom, goodness, love,grace, and mercy, shall set themselves at work, what will they not accomplish?............In this will God be glorified and admired unto all eternity.................................The eternal counsel of God, the person of Christ, His mediation and grace, the promises of the gospel, the evil and wrath we are freed from, the glory and redemption purchased for us, the privileges we are admitted unto a participation of, the consolations and joys of the Spirit, the communion with God that we are called unto,..............Here lies our treasure, here lies our inheritance;..............Were our minds fixed on these things as they ought, how would the glory of them cast out our cares, subdue our fears, sweeten our afflictions and persecutions, and take off our affections from the fading, perishing things of this world, and make us in every condition rejoice in hope of the glory that shall be revealed!" (page 313,emphasis added)