The Works of John Owen, 16 VolumesThe Works of John Owen, 16 Volumes
John Owen
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J.I. Packer declared, "I owe more to John Owen than to any other theologian, ancient or modern." Blessed with a prodigious intellect, Owen was a towering Puritan thinker and writer who still influences contemporary readers. His thoroughly biblical writings explore the Holy Spirit, communion with God, sin, temptation, faith, Christ's death, and more. 16 hardcovers, from Banner of Truth.
     

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A Declaration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ

Our blessed Saviour inquiring of his disciples their apprehensions concerning his person, and their faith in him, Simon Peter—as he was usually the forwardest on all such occasions through his peculiar endowments of faith and zeal—returns an answer in the name of all, Matt. Xvi. 16: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”

Baronius, and sundry others of the Roman Church, do affirm that the Lord Christ did herein prescribe the form of a general council. “For here,” they say, “ the principal article of our Christian faith was declared and determined by Peter whereunto all the rest of the apostles, as in duty they were obliged, did give their consent and suffrage.” This was done as they suppose that a rule and law might be given unto future ages, how to enact and determine articles of faith. For it is to be done by the successors of Peter presiding in councils as it was done by Peter in this assembly of Christ and his apostles.

But they seem to forget that Christ himself was now present, and therefore could have no vicar, seeing he presided in his own person. All the claim they lay unto the necessity of such a visible head of the church on the earth as may determine articles of faith, is from the absence of Christ since his ascension into heaven. But that he should also have a substitute whilst he was present, is somewhat uncouth; and whilst they live, they shall never make the pope president where Christ is present. The truth is, he doth not propose unto his disciples the framing of an article of truth, but inquiers after their own faith, which they expressed in this confession. Such things as these will prejudice, carnal interest, and the prepossession of the minds of men with corrupt imaginations, cause them to adventure on, to scandal, yea, ruin of religion!

This short but illustrious confession of Peter, compriseth eminently the whole truth concerning the person and office of Christ: --of his person, in that although he was the Son of man (under which appellation he made his inquiry, “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?”) yet was he not only so, but the eternal Son of the living God: --of his office, that he was the Christ, he whom God had anointed to be the Saviour of the church, in the discharge of his kingly, priestly, and prophetical power. Instances of the like brief confessions we have elsewhere in the Scripture. Rom. X 9: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth, the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead thou shalt be saved.” 1 John iv. 2,3: “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God.” And it is manifest that al divine truths have such a concatenation among themselves, and do all of them so centre in the person of Christ—as vested with his offices towards the church—that they are all virtually comprised in this confession and they will be so accounted by all who destroy them not by contrary errors and imaginations inconsistent with them though it be the duty of all men to obtain the express knowledge of them in particular, according unto the means thereof which they do enjoy. The danger of men’s souls lieth not in a disability to attain a comprehension of longer or more subtle confessions of faith, but in embracing thing contrary unto, or inconsistent with, this foundation thereof. Whatever it be whereby men cease to hold the Head, how small soever it seem, that alone is pernicious: Col. Ii 18, 19.

The confession, therefore—as containing the sum and substance of that faith, which they were called to give testimony unto, and concerning which their trial was approaching—is approved by our Saviour. And not only so, but eminent privileges are granted unto him that made it, and in him unto the whole church, that should live in the same faith and confession; “And Jesus Answered and said unto him, Blessed are thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”