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النشر الإلكتروني

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

THE

COMMONS OF ENGLAND,

ASSEMBLED IN PARLIAMENT.

Sirs, All that I shall preface to the ensuing discourse is, that seeing the nation's welfare and your own actings are therein concerned (the welfare of the nation, and your own prosperity in your present actings, being so nearly related as they are to the things of the ensuing discourse), I should be bold to press you to a serious consideration of them as now presented unto you, were I not assured by your ready attention unto, and favourable acceptation of, their delivery, that being now published by your command, such a request would be altogether needless. The subject matter of this sermon being of so great weight and importance as it is, it had been very desirable, that it had fallen on an abler hand; as also that more space and leisure had been allotted to the preparing of it, first for so great, judicious, and honourable an audience, and secondly for public view, than possibly I could beg from my daily troubles, pressures, and temptations, in the midst of a poor, numerous, provoking people. As the Lord hath brought it forth, that it may be useful to your Honourable Assembly, and the residue of men that wait for the appearance of the Lord Jesus, shall be the sincere endeavour at the throne of grace of

Your most unworthy servant,
In the work of the Lord,

J. OWEN.
Coggeshall, May 1, 1649.

SERMON VII.

And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be

remain.—Heb. xii. 27.

shaken may

The main design of the apostle in this Scripture to the Hebrews, is to prevail with his countrymen, who had undertaken the profession of the gospel, to abide constant and faithful therein, without any apostacy unto, or mixture with, Judaism, which God and themselves had forsaken; fully manifesting, that in such backsliders the soul of the Lord hath no pleasure ;' chap. x. 38.

A task which whoso undertaketh in any age, shall find exceeding weighty and difficult, even to persuade professors to hold out, and continue in the glory of their profession unto the end, that 'with patience doing the will of God, they might receive the promise ;'s especially if there be ' lions in the way;" if opposition or persecution do attend them in their professed subjection to the Lord Jesus. Of all that deformity and dissimilitude to the divine nature which is come upon us by the fall, there is no one part more eminent, or rather no one defect more evident, than inconstancy and unstableness of mind, in embracing that which is spiritually good. Man being turned from his unchangeable rest, seeks to quiet and satiate his soul with restless movings towards changeable things. Now he who worketh all our works for us, and in us;' Isa. xxvi. 12. worketh them also by us;d and therefore that which he will give, he persuades us to have, that at once his bounty, and our duty, may receive a manifestation in the same thing. Of this nature is perseverance in the faith of Christ, which as by him it is promised, and therefore is a grace; so to us it is prescribed, and thereby is a duty. Petamus ut det, quod ut habeamus jubet. August.' • Let us ask him to bestow, what he requires us to enjoy.' Yea, 'Da, Domine, quod jubes, et jube quod vis :''Give what thou commandest, and command what thou pleaseth.'

* Chap. x. 36. di Thess. i. 3. 2 Thess. i. 11. Deut. x. 16. xxx. 6. Ezek. xviij. 31. Xxxvi. 26. Acts

b Prov. xxii. 13. xxvi. 13.

c Psal. cxvi. 7.

xi. 18.

As a duty it is by the apostle here considered, and therefore pressed on them, who by nature were capable, and by grace enabled for the performance thereof. Pathetical exhortations then unto perseverance in the possession of the gospel, bottomed on prevalent scriptural arguments, and holy reasonings, are the sum of this epistle.

The arguments the apostle handleth unto the end proposed are of two sorts.

First, Principal.
Secondly, Deductive, or emergencies from the first.

First, His principal arguments are drawn from two chief fountains.

1. The author: and
2. The nature and end of the gospel.
1. The author of the gospel is either,

(1.) Principal and immediate, which is God the Father, • Who having at sundry times and in divers manners formerly spoken by the prophets, herein speaketh by his Son;' chap. i. 1.

(2.) Concurrent and immediate, Jesus Christ, this great salvation being begun to be spoken to us by the Lord;' chap. ii. 3. This latter he chiefly considereth, as in and by whom the gospel is differenced from all other dispensations of the mind of God. Concerning him to the end intended he proposeth, [1.] His

person.
[2.] His employment.

[1.] For his person, that thence he may argue to the thing aimed at, he holdeth out,

1st. The infinite glory of his Deity: being the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person ;'

chap. i. 3.

2dly. The infinite condescension of his love, in assuming humanity, for because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same;' chap. ii. 14.

And from the consideration of both these, he presseth the main exhortation which he hath in hand, as you may see, chap. ii. 1, 2. iii. 12, 13, &c.

[2.] The employment of Christ he describeth in his offices, which he handleth,

1st. Positively, and very briefly, chap. i. ii. iii.

2dly. Comparatively, insisting chiefly on his priesthood, exalting it in sundry weighty particulars above that of Aaron, which yet was the glory of the Jewish worship, and this at large, chap. vi. vii. viii. ix. x. And this being variously advanced and asserted, he layeth as the main foundation, upon which he placeth the weight and stress of the main end pursued, as in the whole epistle is every where obvious.

2. The second head of principal arguments he taketh from the gospel itself, which considering as a covenant he holdeth out two ways:

(1.) Absolutely, in its efficacy in respect of

[1.] Justification. In it‘God is merciful to unrighteousness and sins, and iniquities he remembers no more ;' chap. viii. 12. 'Bringing in perfect remission, that there shall need no more offering for sin ;' chap. x. 17.

[2.] Sanctification. "He puts his laws in our hearts, and writes them in our minds;' chap. x. 16. in it, 'Purging our consciences by the blood of Christ ;' chap. ix. 14.

[3.] Perseverance. “I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people;' chap. viii. 10.

All three are also held out in sundry other places.

(2.) Respectively to the covenant of works, and in this regard assigns unto it principal qualifications, with many peculiar eminencies them attending, too many now to be named. Now these are,

[1.] That it is new. He saith a‘new covenant, and hath made the first old;' chap. viii. 13.

[2.] Better. It is a better covenant, and built upon better promises ;' chap. viii. 6. vii. 22.

[3.] Surer, the priest thereof being ordained, ‘not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life;' chap. vii. 16.

[4.] Unalterable. So in all the places before named, and sundry others.

All which are made eminent in its peculiar mediator Jesus Christ, which is the sum of chap. vi.

And still in the holding out of these thiugs, that they might not forget the end for which they were now drawn forth, and so exactly handled, he interweaves many pethetical entreaties, and pressing arguments by way of application, for the confirming and establishing his countrymen in the faith of this glorious gospel, as you may see almost in every chapter.

Secondly, His arguments less principal, deduced from the former, being very many, may be referred to these three heads :

1. The benefits by them enjoyed under the gospel.

2. The example of others, who by faith and patience obtained the promises; chap. xi.

3. From the dangerous and pernicious consequence of backsliding, of which only I shall speak. Now this he setteth out three ways.

(1.) From the nature of that sin. It is a crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh, and putting him to open shame;' chap. vi, 6. a 'treading under foot the Son of God, counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and doing despite to the spirit of grace ;' chap. x. 29.

(2.) The irremediless punishment which attends that sin. • There remains no more sacrifice for it, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation that shall consume the adversaries ;' chap. x. 26, 27.

(3.) The person against whom peculiarly it is committed, and that is he who is the author, subject, and Mediator of the gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ: concerning whom for the aggravation of this sin, he proposeth two things.

[1.] His goodness and love, and that in his great undertaking to be a Saviour, being made like unto his brethren in all things, that he might be a merciful and faithful highpriest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people;' chap. ii. 17. And of this there is a sweet and choice line running through the whole discourse, making the sin of backsliding against so much love and condescension appear exceeding sinful.

[2.] His greatness or power, which he sets out two ways,

1st. Absolutely, as he is God to be blessed for ever;' chap. i. and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;' chap. x. 31.

2dly. Comparatively, as he is the Mediator of the new covenant in reference to Moses. And this he setteth forth,

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