Church Purity and Unity: Works of John Owen- Volume XVChurch Purity and Unity: Works of John Owen- Volume XV
John Owen
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According to B. B. Warfield the long hours Edwards spent in his study bore their richest fruit in his sermons. Some of the sixty-two to be found in this volume are historically important, and justly famous. Yet all of them are characterised by a plain, expository style, intense spirituality and an effort to impress on the hearers the reality of God, his grace and his wrath. His doctrine is all application, 'Rabbi' Duncan once said of Edwards, and his application all doctrine.
     

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     Although our present inquiry be merely after one part of institued worship under the gospel, and the due performance of it according to the mind of God, yet there being a communication of some light to be obtained from the turning over of that worship from the Mosaical to the care and practice of the evangelical church, we shall look a little back unto it as therein stated; hoping thereby to make way for our clearer progress.  What was the state of the church of God amongst the Jews as to instituted worship, when our blessed God amongst the jews as to instituted worship, when our blessed Savior came to make the last and perfect discovery of his mind and will, is manifest bother from the appointment of that worship in the law of Moses, and the practice of it remarked in the gospel.  That the rites and ordinances of the worship in the church observed, were from the original in their nature carnal, and for the number many, on both accounts burdensome and grievous to the worshippers, the Scripture frequently declares.  Howbeit, the teachers and rulers of the church, being grown wholly carnal in their spirits, and placing their only glory in their yoke, not being able to see to the end of the things that were to be done away, had increased those institutions both in number and weight, with sundry inventions of their own; which by their authority, they made necessary to be observed by their disciples.  In an equal practice of these divine institutions and human inventions did our Lord Jesus Christ find the generality of the church at his coming in the flesh.
 


     The former, being to continue in force until the time of reformation, at his resurrection from the dead, should come, both by his practice and his teaching, as a minister of Circumcision, he confirmed and pressed frequently on the consciences of men, from the authority of the Law-maker.  The latter he utterly rejected, as introduced in high derogation from the perfection of the law, and the honour of Him whose prerogative it is to be the sole lawgiver of his church,--the only fountain and disposer of his own worship.  And this was the first dawning of liberty that, with the rising of this Day-star, did appear to the burdened and languishing consciences of men.  He freed them, by his teaching, from the bondage of Pharisaical, arbitray impositions, delivering their consciences from subjection to any thing in the worship of God but his own immediate authority.  For it may not be supposed that, when he recommended unto his hearers an attendance unto the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees with an injunction to obey their directions, that he intended aught but those commands which they gave from Him and according to his mind, whose fear they did outwardly profess; seeing that both in general and particular, he did himself condemn their traditions impositions, giving out a rule of liberty from them unto others in his own constant practice.  Yea, and whereas he would do civil things in their own nature indifferent, whereunto he was by no righteous law obliged, to avoid the offence of any which he saw might follow, yet would he not practise or give countenance unto, nay, nor abstain from condemning of, any of their ecclesiastical self-invented observances though he saw them offended and scandalized at him and was by otehrs informed no less confirming his practice with that standing rule concerning all things relating to the worship of God, “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.”  Be he is yet farther to carry on work of giving liberty to all the disciples , that he might take them into subjection to himself and his own authority only. 
The Aaronical priesthood being the hinge on which the whole ceremonial worship turned, so that upon a change thereof the obligation of the law unto that worship, or any part of it, was necessarily to cease, our blessed Saviour in his death and oblation entering upon the office, and actually discharging the great duty of his priesthood, did virtually put an end to the whole obligation of the first institution of Mosaical worship.  In his death was the procurement of the libery of his disciples completely finished, as unto conscience; the supposed obligation of men’s traditions and the real obligation of Mosaical institutions being by him (the first as a prophet in his teaching, the last as a priest in his offering) dissolved and taken away.  From that day all the disciples of Christ were taken under his immediate lordship and made free to the end of the world from all obligations in conscience unto any thing in the worship of God but what is of his own institution and command.