Owen - BX9315 O81

PREFACE. IT is a great promise concerning the person of Christ, as he was to be given unto the church, (for he was a Child born, a Son given unto us, Isa. ix. 6.) that God would lay him in Zionfor afoundation, a stone, a fried stone, aprecious corner-stone, a surefoundation, where- on he that believeth, shallnot matte haste, isa. xxviii. 16. Yet was it also foretold concerning him, that this pre- cious foundation should befor a stone ofstumbling, and for a rock ofoffence to both the houses ofIsrael, for agin, andfor a snare unto the inhabitants ofJerusalem: so as that many among them should stumble andfall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken, lsa. viii. 14, 15. Accordingunto this promise and prediction, it bath fal- len out in all ages of the church, as the apostle Peter declaresconcerning the first of them: Wherefore (saith Ile) also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner-stone, elect, and precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he isprecious: ,but unto them that are disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, thesame is made the head ofthe comer, and a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even unto them that stumble at the word, being disobedient, whereunto also they were appointed, 1 Epist. chap. ii. ver. 6, 7, 8. Unto them that believe unto the saving of the soul, he is, he always bath been precious; the sun, the rock, the life, the bread of their souls, every thing that is good, useful, amiable, desirable here or unto eternity. In, from, and by him is all their spiritual and eternal life, light, power, growth, consolation and joy here, with everlasting salvation hereafter: by him alone do they desire, expect, and obtain deliverance from that wouul apostacy from God, which is accompanied with- al, which containeth in it virtually and meritoriously, whatever is evil, noxious and destructive unto our na- ture, and which without relief will issue in eternal mi- sery. By him are they brought into the nearest cog- nation, alliance, and friendship with God, the firmest union unto him, and the most holy communion with him, that our finite natures are capable of; and so a conducted unto the eternal enjoyment of him: for its him shall all the seed of Israel bejustified, and shall glo- ry, Isa. lxv. 25. For Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: they shall not be ashamed nor confoundedworld without end, ve,. 17. On these and the like accounts, the principal design of their whole lives, unto whom he is thus precious, is to acquaint themselves with him, the mystery of the wisdom, grace, and love of God, in his person andme- diation, as revealed unto us in the Scripture, which is life eternal, John xvii. 3.; to trust in him, and unto him, as unto all the everlasting concernments of their souls, to loveand honour him with all their hearts, to endea- vour after conformity unto him, in all those characters of divine goodness and holiness, which are represented unto them in him. In these things consist the soul, life, power, beauty, and efficacy of Christian religion, without which, whatever outward ornaments may be put upon its exercise, it is but an useless, liléless car- case. The whole of this design is expressed in those heavenly words ofthe apostle, Phil. iii, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Yea doubtless, and Icoant all things but loss, for the ex- cellency ofthe knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lad: for whom I havesehred.the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I aright win Christ, and be]kund in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is ofthe law, but that which is through thefaith ofChrist, the righteousness which is of God byfaittu that Imay know kin, and thepower ofhis resurrection, and thefellowship of.his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; ifby any means Imight attain unto the resurrection of the dead: not as though Ihad already attained, either were already perfect. but Ifollow after, f that Imay apprehend thatfor which I also am apprehended ofChrist Jesus. This is a divine expression of that frame ofheart, of that design which is predominant and efficacious in them unto whom Christ is precious. But on the other band, according unto the foremen- tinned prediction, as he hath been a sure foundation unto all that believe; so he bath in like manner been a -t