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John Owen

John Owen

John Owen (1616 - 1683)

Read freely text sermons and articles by the speaker John Owen in text and pdf format.John Owen, called the “prince of the English divines,” “the leading figure among the Congregationalist divines,” “a genius with learning second only to Calvin’s,” and “indisputably the leading proponent of high Calvinism in England in the late seventeenth century,” was born in Stadham (Stadhampton), near Oxford. He was the second son of Henry Owen, the local Puritan vicar. Owen showed godly and scholarly tendencies at an early age. He entered Queen’s College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and studied the classics, mathematics, philosophy, theology, Hebrew, and rabbinical writings. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1632 and a Master of Arts degree in 1635. Throughout his teen years, young Owen studied eighteen to twenty hours per day.

Pressured to accept Archbishop Laud’s new statutes, Owen left Oxford in 1637. He became a private chaplain and tutor, first for Sir William Dormer of Ascot, then for John Lord Lovelace at Hurley, Berkshire. He worked for Lovelace until 1643. Those years of chaplaincy afforded him much time for study, which God richly blessed. At the age of twenty-six, Owen began a forty-one year writing span that produced more than eighty works. Many of those would become classics and be greatly used by God.

Owen was by common consent the weightiest Puritan theologian, and many would bracket him with Jonathan Edwards as one of the greatest Reformed theologians of all time.

Born in 1616, he entered Queen's College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and secured his M.A. in 1635, when he was nineteen. In his early twenties, conviction of sin threw him into such turmoil that for three months he could scarcely utter a coherent word on anything; but slowly he learned to trust Christ, and so found peace.

In 1637 he became a pastor; in the 1640s he was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and in 1651 he was made Dean of Christ Church, Oxford's largest college. In 1652 he was given the additional post of Vice-Chancellor of the University, which he then reorganized with conspicuous success. After 1660 he led the Independents through the bitter years of persecution till his death in 1683.

      John Owen was born of Puritan parents at Stadham in Oxfordshire in 1616. At Oxford University, which he entered in 1628 at twelve years of age, John pored over books so much that he undermined his health by sleeping only four hours a night. In old age he deeply regretted this misuse of his body, and said he would give up all the additional learning it brought him if only he might have his health back. Naturally, he studied the classics of the western world, but also Hebrew, the literature of the Jewish rabbis, mathematics and philosophy. His beliefs at that time were Presbyterian, however, his ambition, although fixed on the church, was worldly.

      John was driven from Oxford in 1637 when Archbishop Laud issued rules that many of England's more democratically-minded or "low" church ministers could not accept. After this, John was in deep depression. He struggled to resolve religious issues to his satisfaction. While in this state, he heard a sermon on the text "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" which fired him with new decisiveness.

      After that, John wrote a rebuke of Arminianism (a mild form of Calvinism which teaches that man has some say in his own salvation or damnation although God is still sovereign). Ordained shortly before his expulsion from Oxford, he was given work at Fordham in Essex. After that he rose steadily in public affairs. Before all was over, he would become one of the top administrators of the university which expelled him and he even sat in Parliament.

      He became a Congregationalist (Puritan) and took Parliament's side in the English Civil Wars. Oliver Cromwell employed him in positions of influence and trust, but John would not go along when Cromwell became "Protector." Nonetheless, many of Parliament's leaders attended John's church.

      John's reputation was so great that he was offered many churches. One was in Boston, Massachusetts. John turned that down, but he once scolded the Puritans of New England for persecuting people who disagreed with them.

      He also engaged in controversy with such contemporaries as Richard Baxter and Jeremy Taylor. Through it all, John focused his teaching on the person of Christ. "If Christ had not died," he said, "sin had never died in any sinner unto eternity." In another place he noted that "Christ did not die for any upon condition, if they do believe; but he died for all God's elect, that they should believe."

      John wrote many books including a masterpiece on the Holy Spirit. Kidney stones and asthma tormented him in his last years. But he died peacefully in the end, eyes and hands lifted up as if in prayer.

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John Owen

1 Corinthians i. 30

1 Cor. i. 30. Christ, how of God made righteousness unto us — Answer of Bellarmine unto this testimony removed — That of Socinus disproved — True sense of the words evinced The next place I shall consider in the epistles of this apostle is, — 1 Cor. i. 30. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of ... Read More
John Owen

2 Corinthians v. 21

2 Cor. v. 21. In what sense Christ knew no sin — Emphasis in that expression — How he was made sin for us — By the imputation of sin unto him — Mistakes of some about this expression — Sense of the ancients — Exception of Bellarmine unto this testimony answered, with other reasonings of his to the s... Read More
John Owen

A due consideration of God necessary

Secondly, A due consideration of God, the Judge of all, necessary unto the right stating and apprehension of the doctrine of justification, Rom. viii. 33; Isa. xliii. 25; xlv. 25; Ps. cxliii. 2; Rom. iii. 20 — What thoughts will be ingenerated hereby in the minds of men, Isa. xxxiii. 14; Micah vi. 6... Read More
John Owen

An humble Inquiry into, and Prospect of, the infinite Wisdom of God, in the Constitution of the Person of Christ

From the consideration of the things before insisted on, we may endeavour, according unto our measure, to take a view of, and humbly adore, the infinite wisdom of God, in the holy contrivance of this great “mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh.” As it is a spiritual, evangelical mystery, ... Read More
John Owen

Chap. I. — Of the Scripture

Ques. 1. What is Christian religion? Ans. The aonly way of1 2 knowing God aright, and bliving unto him. aJohn xiv. 5, 6, xvii. 3; Acts iv. 12. bCol. i. 10; 2 Cor. v. 15; Gal. ii. 19, 20. Q. 2. Whence is it to be learned? A. From the holy3 Scripture only. Isa. viii. 20; John v. 39. Q. 3. What is the ... Read More
John Owen

Chap. II. — Of God

Q. 1. What do the Scriptures teach concerning God? A. First, what he is, or his nature; secondly, what he doth, or his works. Exod. iii. 14; Isa. xlv. 6; Heb. i. 1–3, xi. 6. Q. 2. What is God in himself? A. An aeternal, binfinite,8 9 10 cincomprehensible dSpirit, egiving being to all things, and doi... Read More
John Owen

Chap. III. — Of the Holy Trinity

Q. 1. Is there but one God to whom these properties do belong? A. aOne only, in respect of his essence and being, but one bin three distinct persons, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. aDeut. vi. 4; Matt. xix. 17; Eph. iv. 5, 6. bGen. i. 26; 1 John v. 7; Matt. xxviii. 19. Q. 2. What mean you by person?... Read More
John Owen

Chap. IV. — Of the Works of God; and, First, of those that are Internal and Immanent

Q. 1. What do the Scriptures teach concerning the works of God? A. That they are of two sorts; first, internal,20 in his counsel, decrees, and purposes, towards his creatures; secondly, external, in his works over and about them, to the praise of his own glory. Acts xv. 18; Prov. xvi. 4. Q. 2. What ... Read More
John Owen

Chap. IX. — Of the Incarnation of Christ

Q. 1. Shall all mankind, then, everlastingly perish? A. No; God, of his free grace, hath prepared a way to redeem and save his elect. John iii. 16; Isa. liii. 6. Q. 2. What way was this? A. By sending his own Son43 Jesus Christ in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemning sin in the flesh. Rom. viii.... Read More
John Owen

Chap. V. — Of the Works of God that outwardly are of Him

Q. 1. What are the works of God that outwardly respect his creatures? A. First, of creation; secondly, of27 actual providence. Ps. xxxiii. 9; Heb. i. 2, 3. Q. 2. What is the work of creation? A. An act or work of God’s almighty power, whereby of nothing, in six days, he created heaven, earth, and th... Read More
John Owen

Chap. VI. — Of God’s actual Providence

Q. 1. What is God’s actual providence? A. The effectual working of his32 33 34 power, and almighty act of his will, whereby he sustaineth, governeth, and disposeth of all things, men and their actions, to the ends which he hath ordained for them. Exod. iv. 11; Job v. 10–12, ix. 5, 6; Ps. cxlvii. 4; ... Read More
John Owen

Chap. VII. — Of the Law of God

Q. 1. Which is the law that God gave man at first to fulfil? A. The same which was afterwards37 written with the finger of God in two tables of stone on Mount Horeb, called the Ten Commandments. Rom. ii. 14, 15. Q. 2. Is the observation of this law still required of us? A. Yes, to the uttermost titt... Read More
John Owen

Chap. VIII. — Of the State of Corrupted Nature

Q. 1. How came this weakness and disability upon us? A. By the sin and40 shameful fall of our first parents. Rom. v. 12, 14. Q. 2. Wherein did that hurt us, their posterity? A. Divers ways; first, ain that we were all guilty of the same breach of covenant with Adam, being all in him; secondly, bour ... Read More
John Owen

Chap. X. — Of the Person of Jesus Christ

Q. 1. What doth the Scripture teach us of Jesus Christ? A. Chiefly two things first, his44 person, or what he is in himself; secondly, his offices, or what he is unto us. Q. 2. What doth it teach of his person? 479A. That he is truly God, and perfect man, partaker of the natures of God and man in on... Read More
John Owen

Chap. XI. — Of the Offices of Christ; and, First, of His Kingly

Q. 1. How many are the offices of Jesus Christ? A. Three; first, of a aKing; secondly, of ba45 46 Priest; thirdly, of a cProphet. aPs. ii. 6. bPs. cx. 4. cDeut. xviii. 15. Q. 2. Hath he these offices peculiar by nature? A. No; he only received them for the present dispensation, until the work of red... Read More
John Owen

Chap. XII. — Of Christ’s Priestly Office

Q. 1. By what means did Jesus Christ undertake the office of an eternal priest? A. By athe decree, ordination, and will of God his Father, bwhereunto he yielded voluntary obedience; so cthat concerning this there was a compact and covenant between them. aPs. cx. 4; Heb. v. 5, 6, vii. 17, 18. bIsa. l... Read More
John Owen

Chap. XIII. — Of Christ’s Prophetical Office

Q. 1. Wherein doth the prophetical office of Christ consist? A. In his embassage60 from God to man, revealing from the bosom of his Father the whole mystery of godliness, the way and truth whereby we must come unto God. Matt. v.; John i. 18, iii. 32, x. 9, 14, xiv. 5, 6, xvii. 8, xviii. 37. Q. 2. Ho... Read More
John Owen

Chap. XIV. — Of the Two-fold Estate of Christ

Q. 1. In what estate or condition doth Christ exercise these offices? A. In a two-fold estate; first, of humiliation62 63 64 or abasement; secondly, of exaltation or glory. Phil. ii. 8–10. 484Q. 2. Wherein consisteth the state of Christ’s humiliation? A. In three things; first, ain his incarnation, ... Read More
John Owen

Chap. XIX. — Of Justification

Q. 1. Are we accounted righteous and saved for our faith, when we are thus freely called? A. No, but merely by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, apprehended and applied by faith; for which alone the Lord accepts us as holy and righteous. Isa. xliii. 25; Rom. iii. 23–26, iv. 5. Q. 2. Wha... Read More
John Owen

Chap. XV. — Of the Persons to whom the Benefits of Christ’s Offices do belong

Q. 1. Unto whom do the saving benefits of what Christ performeth, in the execution of his offices, belong? A. Only to his elect.65 66 67 John xvii. 9; Isa. lxiii. 9; Heb. iii. 6, x. 21. Q. 2. Died he for no other? A. None, in respect of his Father’s eternal purpose, and his own intention of removing... Read More

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