Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Back by popular demand: London Highlights, Pt. 3

am not a John Owen expert, nor the son of one (my dad being a retired civil engineer). I merely had my picture taken at the site of Owen's temporary repose, in Bunhill Fields Cemetery, London.

I asked Edwin and John, our resident Owenists, to provide me with some of their favorite quotes from or about the man, who we've recently come to learn was a very different sort of person from John Milton, thanks to Susan (see this post and this post). Without further ado –


Some of Edwin's favorite Owen quotes:

“This is the way whereby God will be glorified. This is the mystery of our religion, that we worship God according to the economy of his wisdom and grace, wherein he doth dispense of himself unto us, in the persons of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Otherwise he will not be honored or worshipped by us. And those who in their worship or invocation do attempt an approach unto the divine nature as absolutely considered, without respect unto the dispensation of God in the distinct persons of the holy Trinity, do reject the mystery of the Gospel, and all the benefits of it.”
- Christologia, IX

“The end, I say, why God communicates a spiritual, supernatural light unto the minds of believers, is that they may be able to discern the manifestation and revelation of his glory in Christ ... Want of a steady view of this glory of God, is that which exposeth us unto impressions from all our temptations.”
- Christologia, XIX

“One Scripture, in its own plainness and simplicity, will be of more use for the end I aim at than twenty scholastical arguments, pressed with never so much accurateness and subtilty.”
- The Doctrine of the Saint's Perseverance, I

A favorite quote of John's about Owen:

"I need not tell you of this who knew him, that it was his great design to promote holiness in the life and exercise of it among you ... He was a burning and a shining light, and you for a while rejoiced in his light. Alas! it was but for a while: and we may rejoice in it still."
- From the 1683 funeral sermon delivered by David Clarkson, Owen's assistant at Leadenhall Street in London

John was also kind enough to pass along Owen's epitaph (from this source), which, to my knowledge, is no longer visible on his sepulchre. It was written by Thomas Gilbert. First the original Latin, then the translation:

JOHANNES OWEN, S.T.P.

Agro Oxoniensi Oriundus;
Patte insigni Theologo Theologus ipse Insignior;
Et seculi hujus Insignissimis annumerandus:
Communibus Humaniorum Literarum Suppetiis,
Mensura pacum Communi, Instructus;
Omnibus, quasi bene Ordinata Ancillarum Serie,
Ab illo jussis suae Famulari Theologiae:
Theologiae Polemicae, Practicae, et quam vocant Casuum
(Harum enim Omnium, quae magis sua habenda erat, ambigitur)
In illa, Viribus plusquam Herculeis, serpentibus tribus,
Arminio, Socino, Cano, Venenosa Strinxit guttura:
In ista suo prior, ad verbi Amussim, Expertus Pectore,
Universam Sp. Scti. OEconomiam Aliis tradidit:
Et, missis Caeteris, Coluit ipse, Sensitque,
Beatam quam scripsit, cum Deo Communionem,
In terris Viator comprehensori in caelis proximus:
In Casuum Theologia, Singulis Oraculi instar habitus;
Quibus Opus erat, et copia, Consulendi;
Scriba ad Regnum Caelorum usquequoque institutus;
Multis privatos intra Parietes, a Suggesto Pluribus,
A Prelo omnibus, ad eundem scopum collineantibus,
Pura Doctrinae Evangelici Lampas Praeluxit;
Et sensim, non sine aliorum, suoque sensu,
Sic praelucendo Periit,
Assiduis Infirmitatibus Obsiti,
Morbis Creberrimis Impetiti,
Durisque Laboribus potissimum Attriti, Corporis,
(Fabricae, donec ita Quassatae, Spectabilis) Ruinas,
Deo ultra Fruendi Cupida, Deseruit;
Die, a Terrenis Potestatibus, Plurimis facto Fatali;
Illi, A Coelesti Numine, felici reddito;
Mensis Scilicet Augusti XXIV° Anno a Partu Virgineo.
M.DC.LXXXIIIo AEtat. LXVIIo.x


John Owen, D.D. born in the county of Oxford, the son of an eminent Minister, himself more eminent, and worthy to be enrolled among the first Divines of the age. Furnished with human literature in all its kinds, and in all its degrees, he called forth all his knowledge in an orderly train to serve the interests of Religion, and minister in the Sanctuary of his God.

In Divinity, practical, polemical, and casuistical, he excelled others, and was in all equal to himself. The Arminian, Socinian, and Popish errors, those Hydras, whose contaminated breath, and deadly poison infested the church, he, with more than Herculean labour, repulsed, vanquished, and destroyed.

The whole economy of redeeming grace, revealed and applied by the Holy Spirit, he deeply investigated and communicated to others; having first felt its divine energy, according to its draught in the Holy Scriptures, transfused into his own bosom. Superior to all terrene pursuits, he constantly cherished, and largely experienced, that blissful communion with Deity, he so admirably describes in his writings.

While on the road to Heaven his elevated mind almost comprehended its full glories and joys. When he was consulted on cases of conscience his resolutions contained the wisdom of an Oracle. He was a scribe every way instructed in the mysteries of the kingdom of God.

In conversation, he held up to many, in his public discourses, to more, in his publications from the press, to all, who were set out for the celestial Zion, the effulgent lamp of evangelical truth to guide their steps to immortal glory.

While he was thus diffusing his divine light, with his own inward sensations, and the observations of his afflicted friends, his earthly tabernacle gradually decayed, till at length his deeply sanctified soul longing for the fruition of its God, quitted the body.

In younger age a most comely and majestic form; but in the latter stages of life, depressed by constant infirmities, emaciated with frequent diseases, and above all crushed under the weight of intense and unremitting studies, it became an incommodious mansion for the vigorous exertions of the spirit in the service of its God.

He left the world on a day, dreadful to the Church by the cruelties of men, but blissful to himself by the plaudits of his God, August 24, 1683, aged 67.

["The memory of the righteous is a blessing ..."
Proverbs 10:7
Praise God for the memory of such saints! - HCR]

2 comments:

Susan A said...

Thanks Chris. I was at Bunhill fields last Friday, and had my picture taken at Owen's grave too! I lamented the lack of an epitaph, so it's good to know that there was one!

H.C. Ross said...

Yes, there was an epitaph -- and wouldn't you know it, in verbose Latin.

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