Sunday, August 24, 2008

(My) Last Word to Owen

Posted by David Reimer

With normal service about to be resumed (welcome back, JT!), one last "Sunday" post from yrs truly. This snippet from John Owen contains some obvious marks of the religious controversies of his day. Still, I think his central point stands: there is something in the human heart that prefers creatureliness to the true beauty of the Creator. Owen again exposes the roots of human sinfulness under all others -- idolatry, and the taproot, pride -- and holds up rather "God, the eternal spring of all beauty; ... Christ, the love, desire, and hope of all nations; [and] the Spirit, the great beautifier of souls":
It is an innate acknowledged principle, that the soul of man will not keep up cheerfully unto the worship of God, unless it have a discovery of a beauty and comeliness in it. Hence, when men had lost all spiritual sense and favour of the things of God, to supply the want that was in their own souls, they invented outwardly pompous and gorgeous ways of worship, in images, paintings, pictures, and I know not what carnal ornaments which they have called the beauties of holiness.

Thus much however was discovered therein, that the mind of man must see a beauty, a desirableness in the things of God's worship, or it will not delight in it; aversation will prevail. Let then the soul labour to acquaint itself with the spiritual beauty of obedience, of communion with God, and of all duties of immediate approach to him, that it may be filled with delight in them.
— John Owen, Indwelling Sin in Believers (1668), in Works, vol. 6, p. 188; Kapic & Taylor edition, pp. 269-70.