COMMUNION WITH GOD THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST
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EACH PERSON DISTINCTLY, IN LOVE, GRACE, AND CONSOLATION; OR, THE SAINTS' FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST UNFOLDED. “God is love.” — 1 John 4:8. “Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where they feedest.' — Song of Solomon l:7. “Make haste, my beloved.” — Song of Solomon 8:14. “Grieve not this Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye sealed unto the day of redemption.” — Ephesians 4:30. “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administration, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God.” — 1 Corinthians 12:4-6.
THE reader may be referred to the Life of Dr Owen (vol. 1 p. 72) for a general criticism on the merits of the following treatise. It was published in 1657, shortly after he had ceased to be Vice-Chancellor in the University of Oxford. From the brief preface affixed to it, it appears that, for a period of more than six years, he had been under some engagement to publish the substance of the work. It has been inferred, accordingly, that it is the substance of some discourses which he had preached in Oxford; but, as he became Vice-Chancellor only in September 1652, there is more probability in the supposition that they are the discourses which refreshed and cheered his attached congregation at Coggeshall.
There are two peculiarities which deserve attention in the treatise. The oversight of one of them has created some misconception of the author's design, and led some to fancy that he was wandering from it, in various passages which are in strict harmony with his main and original purpose in the work. The term “Communion,” as used by Owen, is used in a wider sense than is consistent with that which is now generally attached to it in religious phraseology. It denotes not merely the interchange of feeling between God in his gracious character and a soul in a gracious state, but the gracious relationship upon which this holy interchange is based. On the part of Christ, for example, all his work and its results are described, from the atonement till it takes effect in the actual justification of the sinner.
The grand peculiarity distinguishing the treatise is the fullness of illustration with which he dilates on the communion enjoyed by believers with each person of the Godhead respectively. Fully to comprehend his views on this point, it is needful to bear in mind the meaning under which the word Communion is employed by Owen.
Part I. — The fact of communion with God is asserted, CHAP. I Passages in Scripture are quoted to show that special mention is made of communion with all the persons of the Trinity, II. Communion with the\parFATHER is described, III. and practical inferences deduced from it, IV.
Part II. — The reality of communion withCHRIST is proved, CHAP. I.; and the nature of it is subsequently considered, II. It is shown to consist in grace; and then the grace of Christ is exhibited under three divisions: — his personal grace, III. — VI.; and under this branch are two long digressions, designed to unfold the glory and loveliness of Christ; — purchased grace , VII. — X.; in which the mediatorial work of Christ is fully considered, in reference to our acceptance with God, VII., VIII.; sanctification, IX.; and the privileges of the covenant, X.; and grace as communicated by — the Spirit, and conspicuous in the fruits of personal holiness. This last division is illustrated under sanctification, as contained under the head of purchased grace.
Part III. — Communion with theHOLY GHOST is expounded in the eight following chapters; — the foundation of it, CHAP. I; his gracious and effectual influence in believers, II.; the elements in which it consists, III.; the effects in the hearts of believers, IV.; and general iuferences and particular directions for communion with the Spirit, V.-VIII.
The arrangement of the treatise may seem involved and complicated, and the endless divisions and subdivisions may distract rather than assist the attention of the reader. The warm glow of sanctified emotion, however, and occasionally thoughts of singular power and originality, which are found throughout the treatise, sustain the interest, and more than reward perusal. Few passages in any theological writer are more thrilling than the reference to the spotless humanity of Christ, in terms full of sanctified genius, on page 64.
An account of the strange controversy to which this treatise gave rise, many years after its publication, will be found on page 276 —ED.