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GOD’S WORK IN FOUNDING ZION, AND HIS PEOPLE’S DUTY THEREUPON.
AN English Parliament was summoned by Cromwell, as Lord Protector, to meet at Westminster on the 17th September 1656. At this time Admiral Blake was pursuing his victorious career, and combating on the ocean the inveterate enemy of England and English Protestantism, — Spain. In order to obtain the supplies requisite for the maintenance of the war, the Parliament was convened, and Dr. Owen preached on the occasion. The Parliament agreed to support the Protector in the war, and voted him for the purpose £ 400,000. The sermon of Owen is remarkable for the tone of cheerful gratitude pervading it, for the peace and freedom which the nation now enjoyed. While contrasting present advantages with the evils from which the country had been delivered, he warns his audience against any course that might expose them, under the judgment of God, to the loss of privileges so dearly won, and against indulging in the strife and animosities which would “turn judgment into wormwood, and truth into hemlock.” — ED. Wednesday, 17th of September 1656. ORDERED by the Parliament, That Mr. Maidstone and the Lientenant of the Tower do give the hearty thanks of the House to Dr. Owen, Dean of Christ Church and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, for his great pains taken in his sermon preached this day in the Abbey Church at Westminster, before his Highness the Lord Protector and the members elected to sit this present Parliament; and that he be desired to print his sermon; and that no man presume to print it without his leave. Hen. Scobell, Clerk of the Parliament.
TO HIS HIGHNESS, THE LORD PROTECTOR, AND TO THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, AND IRELAND, ETC. ALTHOUGH I need plead no other reason for the publishing of the ensuing discourse but your order and command for my so doing; yet, because I know that your peculiar interest, as governors of this commonwealth, in the several stations wherein you are placed of God, is truly stated therein, — in the pursuit whereof your peace and the peace of these nations will be found to lie, — I crave leave to add that consideration also. Being fully acquainted in and with what weakness it was composed and delivered, I cannot but conclude that it was merely for the truth’s sake therein contained, which is of God, and its suitableness, through his wise providence, to the present state of things in these nations, that it found acceptance and entertainment with you; which also makes me willing to be therein your remembrancer a second time. From the day wherein I received a command and call unto the service of preaching unto you, unto this issue of it, wherein it is clothed anew with obedience to your order, I found mercy with God to have that caution of the great apostle abiding in my heart and thoughts, “If I yet please men, I am not a servant of God.”
Hence I can with boldness profess, that, influenced in some measure with the power of that direction, I studiously avoided whatever might be suggested with the least unsuitableness thereunto, with respect either to myself or others.
It was for Zion’s sake that I was willing to undertake this duty and service, rejoicing that I had once more an opportunity to give public testimony to the great concernment of the great God and our dear Lord Jesus Christ in all the concussions of the nations in the world, and peculiarly in his wonderful providential dispensations in these wherein we live. And here, as the sum of all, to use plainness and liberty of speech, I say, if there be any thing, in any person whatever in these nations, that cannot stand with, that can stand without, the general interest of the people of God pleaded for, let it fall, and rise no more; and the Lord, I know, will send his blessing out of Zion on whatever, in singleness of heart, is done in a tendency to the establishment thereof.
Farther, I shall not need to suggest any thing of the ensuing discourse: — they who take themselves to be concerned therein will acquaint themselves with it by its perusal. I shall only add, if the general principles asserted therein be in your hearts; if, in pursuit thereof, you endeavor that in no corner of the nation it may be said, This is Zion, that no man careth for; but that those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and are, by faith and obedience, separated from the perishing world, following the Lamb, according to the light which he is graciously pleased to impart unto them, and engaged, by the providence of God, in that work which he hath undertaken to accomplish amongst us, be not overborne by a spirit of profaneness and contempt of the power of godliness raging in the earth; that they may be preserved and secured from the return of a hand of violence, and encouraged in the testimony they have to bear to the kingdom of Christ, in opposition to the world, and all the ways which the men thereof have received by tradition from their fathers, that are not according to his mind; — you will, undoubtedly, in your several conditions, receive blessing from God. Which also that you may, in all your concernments, is the daily prayer of Your humble Servant In the work of our dear Lord Jesus, JOHN OWEN