John Owen's: Book Discussion

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Gina B, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. Gina B

    Gina B
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    I'm going to start reading this book: http://books.google.com/books?id=9ic3AAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

    So I'll be posting thoughts and comments as I go through and would like to invite others to join in, even if they don't read it.

    Dunno how fast or slow I'll be getting through it between work and home, just started a few minutes ago and read through the preface and have to say, if you read nothing else, read that if you're anything like me and enjoy a good piece of writing! It was hilarious to hear how he worded his reasons for some of the editing...so gracefully honest.
     
  2. Alive in Christ

    Alive in Christ
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    Gina....

    I see that its an old book Those can really be good! In addition to your thoughts, share some tasty tidbits from the text.
     
  3. Gina B

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    Okay, starting off simple with the first thing that really caught me. Owen is talking about the flesh and spirit and references Galatians 5:17, which says this in the CJB: For the old nature wants what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is contrary to the old nature. These oppose each other, so that you find yourselves unable to carry out your good intentions.

    Own writes the following: "There is no middle state, though there are different degrees in each of them as to good and evil; where either flesh or spirit hath a prevalent rule in the soul, there it makes a different state."

    So why did something so simple really capture my thoughts? Well, because it's being put a different way than I usually have it in my mind and because that battle really isn't that simple. It's the toughest part of our daily lives. That quote asks the very simple question "Where are you?"
    That's something I'd forgotten about that we used to do at a church I attended in another state. The elders put us in the habit of asking each other "Where are you?" when we met rather than "How are you?" with the point being to cause each other to consider their spiritual state. It reminded us to keep our thoughts on Christ and to be aware of the battle between flesh and the Spirit...always aware, always wanting to be as close as possible to our spiritual side rather than the flesh side.

    It's a simple thing we can do ourselves at the end of each day. We can ask ourselves "Where am I?" and strive to move closer to the Spirit side with each new dawn.

    So hey, cool beans! Didn't even finish the first chapter and I got something good out of it!
     
  4. Alive in Christ

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    Gina,

    Yeah, the question "where" are you does seem to dig a bit deeper than "how" are you.
     
  5. J.D.

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    Gina, my compliments for starting a very worthwhile thread. I wish you much success; however I don't expect to have time to participate like I would prefer. I particularly like the way you have linked to the book itself. This is a case for thanking the Lord for the technology we have today.

    I gave the book a quick look and it appears that this one is easier to read than Owens' "The Death of Death" - a book which I finish with much difficulty due to having to repeatedly re-read passages to get at Owen's meanings. But as I said, this one seems much more readable. I'm sure you'll profit greatly from his insights.

    Trivia: Of what "denomination" was Owen?
     
  6. Iconoclast

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    Earthly mindedness may be considered two ways; as Absolute, when the love of earthly things is wholly predominant in the mind; this is a branch from the root, an operation of the carnal mind in one especial way, and is as exclusive of salvation as carnal mindedness. When there is in any a predominant love of earthly things, that person may be truly styled earthly minded, and he hath no interest in the frame of spirit intended in the text: but, alas! Is not this evidently the case of the greatest part of nominal Christians, let them pretend what they will to the contrary ?
    Again, earthly mindedness consists in an Inordinate Afff.ction to the things of this world : this is sinful and ought to be mortified,

    but it is not absolutely inconsistent with the substance or essence of the grace inquired after. Some who are truly spiritually minded, yet may (for a time at least) have such inordinate affections to, and care about, earthly things, that, compared with what they ought to be, and might be, they may be justly denominated earthly minded: they are so in respect of those degrees of spiritual mindedness which they should aim at, and might attain; and they do not consider, that where this inordinate affection is, the other can never flourish ; spirtual mindedness can never advance to any eminent degree. And yet this is the Zoar of many professors, that little one in which they would be spared. They would avoid that species of earthly mindedness which is wholly inconsistent with being spiritually minded; such a frame they know is inconsistent with salvation, and absolutely exclusive of life and peace :

    but there is a degree in being earthly minded, which they persuade themselves, their interest, advantages, relations and occasions of life do call for, and in which they would be a little indulged ; flattering themselves that this will by no means disparage their profession,


    and is very consistent with being spiritually minded; though it may be short of that height, or contrary to those degrees in that grace, which are recoin-r mended to them. And


    These areas will be examined in detail....because of the nature of sin, it can
    take some time to root it out....but he does it!

    Working through this work is a challenge...but it will change your walk for the good:type:
     
  7. Iconoclast

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    From page 49-50
    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 meet entertainment for them. Within a while they are disposed of,
    and so depart unto their own occasions, being neither looked nor inquired
    after any more. Things of another nature are attended unto; new occasions
    bring in new guests for a season.
    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 is it with these occasional thoughts about spiritual
    things. By one means or other they enter into the mind, and there are
    entertained for a season; on a sudden they depart, and men hear of them no
    50
    more. But those that are natural and genuine, arising from a living spring of
    grace in the heart, disposing the mind unto them, 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 unto an account
    whence it is that it hath been so long without them, and calls them over
    into its wonted converse with them.

    Moreover, it is known how often, when we are engaged in spiritual duties,
    other thoughts will interpose, and impose themselves on our minds. Those
    which are about men’s secular concernments will do so. The world will
    frequently make an inroad on the way to heaven, to disturb the passengers
    and wayfaring men. There is nothing more frequently complained of by
    such as are awake unto their duty and sensible of their weakness. Call to
    mind, therefore, how often, on the other hand, spiritual thoughts do
    interpose, and, as it were, impose themselves on your minds whilst you are
    engaged in your earthly affairs.


    and from 57;
    Moreover, it is known how often, when we are engaged in spiritual duties,
    other thoughts will interpose, and impose themselves on our minds. Those
    which are about men’s secular concernments will do so. The world will
    frequently make an inroad on the way to heaven, to disturb the passengers
    and wayfaring men. There is nothing more frequently complained of by
    such as are awake unto their duty and sensible of their weakness. Call to
    mind, therefore, how often, on the other hand, spiritual thoughts do
    interpose, and, as it were, impose themselves on your minds whilst you are
    engaged in your earthly affairs.

    These two thoughts are like a frame work to connect the verses to.
     
  8. Gina B

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    Thanks for the input! I should have some time tomorrow evening to pick up again where I left off. Whoo-hoo! :thumbs:
     
  9. David Lamb

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    He was Church of England (i.e. Anglican). He became the rector of the parish church in the village of Fordham, Essex, England in 1642. That church is still there today, and this page at its website includes the following:
    Owen was a Puritan, which was a widespread movement in the Church of England to reform its worship towards liturgical simplicity and the centrality of preaching. He was to become the foremost advocate of Independent church government. Until the end of his life in 1687, his concern in everything was to promote the truth of the Bible and refute error, so that holiness might flourish and God be glorified.
    Four years later, Owen was made vicar at the parish church at nearby Coggeshall.

    You sometimes see him referred to as a congregationalist, but that is because of his beliefs about church government. As far as I know, he never left the CofE to join a Congregational church.
     
    #9 David Lamb, Aug 25, 2011
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  10. David Lamb

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    deleted (double post. sorry)
     
    #10 David Lamb, Aug 25, 2011
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  11. J.D.

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    Well, David, you have certainly enlightened me. My source said congregational, but your's appears more thorough. Thanks.
     
  12. Jerome

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    And now, the rest of the story...

    While at Coggeshall, Owen became a convinced Congregationalist.

    He had a major role at the Savoy conference, which produced the "Declaration of the Faith and Order Owned and Practiced in the Congregational Churches in England".
     
  13. J.D.

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    That makes sense. It was a study related to the Savoy where I read about Owens being a Congregationalist.
     
  14. Iconoclast

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    JD......JEROME......and all on bb....this is one of the best works you can study through...it is work...but well worth it.
     
  15. David Lamb

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    True, but as far as I know, he always remained in the Church of England. The church of St. Peter's, Coggeshall remained an Anglican church. The first Congregational ("Independent" as such churches were known back then) church in Coggeshall began in 1672, long after Owen had left the village). I haven't heard of Owen ever either leaving the CofE, or joining/becoming pastor of a church in the Congregational denomination.

    So he was a congregationalist (small c), but not a Conregationalist (capital C). In other words, he held congregational beliefs, but did not leave the CofE to join a Congregational church.

    You will find the label "Non-Conformist" attached to him, but remember that in those days, that didn't mean "any other denomination except Church of England". Robert Oliver explains it like this in his book John Owen - His Life and Times:
    Before 1660 the term ‘Nonconformist' described an Anglican clergy-man who ignored some of the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, thereby avoiding what he considered to be the remnants of ‘popish superstition’. Requirements particularly obnoxious to the Puritans were the compulsory wearing of the surplice and making the sign of the cross in baptism. In the 1630s Archbishop Laud made further demands which included the railing in of the communion table at the east end of the church and bowing at the name of Jesus. Immediately after the Reformation the communion table had often been moved into the body of the church for the administration of the Lord’s Supper. Laud’s changes began to give the east end of the churches a more Romish apperance.
    Probably there are several BB members who know far more about John Owen than I do, so I am quite prepared to be shown to be wrong on this. :)
     
  16. Iconoclast

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    ..................

     
    #16 Iconoclast, Aug 29, 2011
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  17. Gina B

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    Still reading, still in chapter two. Can't complain though, the extra work hours have been a pleasant surprise. :love2:

    I'm rather ashamed to say that I'm finding it very meaningful, as so far there hasn't been a whole lot said that anybody who has been a Christian for more than a few days shouldn't already know. And I know it, but there's a major difference between knowing it and living it. This is serving as a profound reminder of what it is to be spiritually minded and not make excuses for not being so.

    I liked his comparison of water to men's thoughts. They naturally gravitate downward, but compressing water forces it to spring towards the heavens and when the Holy Spirit isn't the driving force behind our thoughts, they gravitate towards earthly things. I suppose I took a bit of liberty in rewording that part of the text, but that's the idea of it.

    No matter how far we THINK we are in our spiritual lives, it's good to once in a while look at how far we are from the goal rather than how far we are from where we started. It's natural to get somewhat depressed and lift ourselves up out of it a bit by reminding ourselves how far we've come from the start, but it can become a bad habit and an excuse.
     
  18. Iconoclast

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    Gina...good post.....as you get past the introductory material he continues to zero in on both the grace,and duty of it! I also get convicted...each time i read it...how pathetic is that. As you say....if I lived more than half that I know it would probably be shocking....we are weak and totally dependant on the Lord to sustain us.
    I will look at more of it tommorow....:type:
     
  19. Iconoclast

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    Another season for exercising the mind in thoughts of the omnipresence and omniscience of God, is in our solitudes and retirements. These afford the most genuine evidences, whether we are spiritually minded or not. What we are in them, that we are, and no more.

    Whatever is stored up in the affections and memory, will at such a time offer itself for our present entertainment; and where men have accustomed themselves to any things whatsoever, they will press on them for the possession of their thoughts.


    The Psalmist shews us the way to prevent this evil; Psalm xvi. 7, 8: "I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand." Continual apprehensions of the presence of God with him, kept his mind and affections in that awe and reverence of him,



    as that they gave him counsel in all such seasons, and instructed him in his duty.


    This is the measure of who we are....because we act based on what we believe..... These thoughts build up a treasure internally.
    What we are in them, that we are, and no more.[/U]
     
  20. Iconoclast

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    from pg 126-130


    1. A continual watch is to be kept against the incursions of vain thoughts, especially in those seasons, wherein they are apt to obtain advantage.

    , Prov. iv. 23 : " Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life

    2. Carefully avoid all societies, and callings in life, which are apt to seduce the mind to an earthly and sensual frame.
    The rule observed by David will manifest how careful we ought to be in this respect. Psalm xxxix. 1—3: " I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me: I was dumb with silence, I held my peace even from good, and my sorrow was stirred; my heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned, then spake I with my tongue."

    3. 1'ut an holy constraint on the mind to abide in spiritual thoughts and meditations.

    4. Diligently endeavour in the use of means to furnish the soul with that knowledge of heavenly things, which may administer continual matter of spiritual thoughts from within ourselves

    Hence the Apostle exhorts the Colossians,

    to " let the word of Christ dwell richly in them with all wisdom;" and unless we abound in the knowledge of the mind of Christ, we shall be unfit for the duty.
    5. We must be unwearied in our conflict with Satan, the evil one.

    6. We should be moderate in our endeavours after the needful things of this life, and have our affections to the world mortified
     
    #20 Iconoclast, Sep 5, 2011
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