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as in the original work, the brackets denoting the parts omitted by erasure.
“I shall first show what the spiritual mind is, (and wherein it doth consist,) and then how [it doth evidence itself, so that] we may form a right judgment whether it be in us or
". This is the best [and most sure] indication of the inward [frame and] state of the mind. For if it be so, (on the one side) as [un] to the carnal mind, it is so, [on the other) as [un] to the spiritual. Wherefore to be spiritually minded, is to have the course [and stream] of [those thoughts which we ordinarily retreat unto, which we approve of as suited untojour affections [to be] about spiritual things.
“When any efficacious conviction passes on the mind, it forces (the egress of] its thoughts up[wards) towards heavenly things, [it will think much and frequently of them,] as if that were their proper motion and course; but so soon as the power of the conviction [decays or] wears off, and the mind is no more sensible of its [force and] impression, the thoughts return [again un]to their old course [and track], as the water tends downwards.''
“ From this specimen the reader will see that I undertook no small task, to reduce the accumulated tautologies and pleonasms of Owen to the standard of good modern English, and that with so few alterations of his words, as to leave the style his own. The work of abbreviation, however, has sometimes been extended to the omission of whole sentences, and even paragraphs." — pp. x - xii.
We like the plan very much. If Dr. Porter had dispensed with the greater part of the italics of the original, he would have rendered it still more readable and acceptable, at least to those who do not need to have all the important words pointed out to them, and are rather disturbed than assisted by the speckled appearance of a page in which different kinds of type are mingled.
Owen will never be read with as much pleasure as Jeremy Taylor, let his style be pruned and improved to the utmost ; because he has none of those bursts of eloquence, none of that deep tenderness, none of that richness of language and imagery, and copiousness of classical illustration, often amounting to profuseness and even confusion, which so captivate us in the pages of the latter. But still his manner is by no means dry, and his excellent sense is often adorned by the flowers of rhetoric. His figures, moreover,
have this advantage over those of Taylor, that they are al ways distinct, apposite, correct, and harmonious, while those of Taylor often give us a mere glimpse only of their intention. We have culled one or two specimens in point, from the work before us.
Thoughts and meditations, as proceeding from spiritual affections, are the first things wherein this spiritual mind consists, and whereby it evidences itself. Our thoughts are like the blossoms on a tree in the spring. You may see a tree so covered with blossoms, that nothing else of it appears. Multitudes of them fall off and come to nothing. Ofttimes where there are most blossoms, there is least fruit. But yet there is no fruit, good or bad, but it comes from some of those blossoms. The mind of man is covered with thoughts, as a tree with blossoms. Most of them vanish, and come to nothing; and sometimes where the mind most abounds with them, there is the least fruit. Still there is no fruit which actually we bring forth, good or bad, but it proceeds from some of these thoughts."
The next speaks of occasional, sudden, and violent convictions; and in a manner which shows us that good Dr. Owen did not think so highly of them, as some doctors do in our days.
“ And it is an argument of very low attainments in grace, when our thoughts of spiritual things rise or fall, according to occasional convictions. If when we are under rebukes from God in our persons or relations, in fears of death, and the like, and withal, have some renewed convictions of sin, and endeavour to be more constant in the exercise of our thoughts on spiritual things ; and yet these thoughts decay, as
our convictions, with the causes of them, wear off, yet we have attained a very low degree in this grace, if we have any interest in it at all.
“Water that flows from a living spring, runs equally and constantly, unless it be obstructed by some violent opposition; but that which is from thunder-showers runs furiously for a season, but is quickly dried up. So are those spiritual thoughts which arise from a prevalent internal principle of grace in the heart; they are even and constant, unless an interruption be put upon them for a season, by temptations : but those which are excited by convictions, however their streams may be filled for a season, quickly dry up, and utterly decay.” - p. 24.
The following is on the duty of ministers to be charitable.
He, all whose religion lies in prayer and hearing, has none at all. God has an equal respect to all other duties, and so must we have also. I shall not value his prayers at all, be he never so earnest and frequent in them, who gives not alms according to his ability : and this in an especial manner is required of us who are ministers; that we be not like an hand set up in cross ways, directing others which way to go, but staying behind itself.” — p. 38.
Another, on the inconstancy of spiritual thoughts.
“From these causes it is, that the thoughts of spiritual things are with many, as guests that come into an inn, and not like children that dwell in the house. They enter occasionally, and then there is a great stir about them, to provide entertainment for them. In a while they depart, being neither looked nor inquired after any more. Things of another nature are attended to; new occasions bring in new guests, for
Children are owned in the house, are missed if they are out of the way, and have their daily provision constantly made for them. So while occasional thoughts about spiritual things enter into the mind, and are entertained for a season but on a sudden depart, and men hear no more of them ; those that are natural and genuine, arising from a living spring of grace in the heart, are as the children of the house; they are expected in their places, and at their seasons. If they are missing, they are inquired after. The heart calls itself to an account, whence it hath been so long without them, and calls them over in its wonted converse with them."-pp. 39, 40.
On delight in ordinances of divine worship.
“Two persons may at the same time attend to the same ordinances of divine worship, with equal delight, on very distinct principles, as if two men should come into the same garden, planted and adorned with every variety of herbs and Howers ; one ignorant of the nature of them, the other a skilful herbalist. Both may be equally delighted, the one with the colors and smell of the flowers, the other with the consideration of their various natures, their uses in physical remedies, or the like. So it may be in the hearing of the word. For instance, one may be delighted with the outward administration, another with its spiritual efficacy, at the same time. Hence, Austin tells us, that singing in the church was laid aside by Athanasius at Alexandria ; not the people's singing of psalms, but a kind of singing in the reading of the scripture, and some offices of worship, which began then to be introduced into the church. And the reason he gave why he did it, was, that the modulation of the voice and musical tune, might not divert the minds of men from that spiritual affection which is required of them in sacred duties. What there is of real order in the worship of God, is suited and useful to spiritual affections, because proceeding from the same spirit, whereby they are internally renewed. Beholding your order. Col. ii. 5. Every thing of God's appointment is both helpful and delightful to them. None can say with higher raptures of admiration, How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord, than they, whose affections are renewed. Yet is not their delight terminated on them.
pp. 155, 156. We ask room for two extracts more; not, however, with the intention of presenting any further instances of Owen's occasionally figurative style, but to show more fully the calm good sense, and rational piety, which are his more constant characteristics. The nature of the happiness of the future state, is a subject on which writers are particularly prone to run into extravagance. The following is the unexceptionable manner in which it is treated by Dr. Owen.
“ All that have an apprehension of a future state of happiness, agree in this matter, that it contains in it, or is accompanied with, a deliverance from all that is evil.
But in what it is so, they are not agreed. Many esteem only those things that are grievous, and destructive to nature, to be so; that is, what is penal, in sickness, sorrow, loss, poverty, with all kinds of outward troubles, and death itself, are evils. Wherefore, they suppose that the future state of blessedness will free them from all these things, if they can attain to it. This they will lay in the balance against the troubles of life, and sometimes it may be against the pleasures of it, which they must forego. Yea, persons profane and profligate will, in words at least
, profess, that heaven will give them rest from all their troubles. But it is no place for such persons.
To believers themselves also, these things are evil, such as they expect a deliverance from in heaven: and there is no doubt, but it is our duty, under all our sufferings, persecutions, and sorrows, to raise up our minds to the contemplation of that state, wherein we shall be freed from them all. It is a blessed notion of heaven, that God shall therein wipe away all tears from our eyes: and it would be to our advantage, if we accustomed our minds more to this kind of relief than we do; if, upon the incursion of fears, dangers, sorrows, we did more readily retreat to thoughts of that state wherein we shall be
- pp. 67, 68.
freed from them all; even this most inferior consideration of it, would render the thoughts of it more familiar, and the thing itself more useful to us. Much better it were, than on such occasions to be exercised with heartless complaints, uncertain hopes, and fruitless contrivances.
But there is that, which, to them who are truly spiritually minded, hath more evil in it than all these things together, and that is, sin. Heaven is a state of deliverance from sin, from all sin, in all the causes, concomitants, and effects of it. He is no true believer, to whom sin is not the greatest trouble. Other things, as the loss of dear relations, or extraordinary pains, may make deeper impressions on the mind, by its natural affections, at some seasons, than ever our sins did at any one time, in any one instance: So a man may have a greater trouble in sense of pain, by a fit of the tooth-ache, which will be gone in an hour, than in an hectic fever or consumption, which will assuredly take away his life. But take in the whole course of our lives, and I do not understand how a man can be a sincere believer, to whom sin is not the greatest burden and sorrow.
And upon the agreement of men's thoughts concerning heaven he speaks thus.
“It is generally supposed, that however men differ about religion here, yet they agree well enough about heaven; they would all go to the same heaven. But it is a great mistake ; they differ in nothing more; they would not all go to the same heaven. How few are they who value that heavenly state which we have treated of; or understand how any blessedness can consist in the enjoyment of it? But this and no other heaven would we go to. Other notions there may be of it, which being but fruits and effects of men's own imaginations, the more they dwell in the contemplation of them, the more carnal they may grow, at best the more superstitious. But spiritual thoughts of this heaven, consisting principally in freedom from all sin, in the perfection of all grace, in the vision of the glory of God in Christ, and all the excellencies of the divine nature as manifested in him, are an effectual means for the improvement of spiritual life, and the increase of all graces in us: for they cannot but effect an assimilation in the heart to the things contemplated on, where the principles of them are already begun." - p. 76.
Much attention has of late been deservedly paid to our old writers on practical religion. Much that is beautiful and true yet remains to be taken out from their folios and offered