Owen - BX9315 O81

REPRESCN11ATIVE OP GOD AND HIS WILL. own vileness and baseness by nature: for we are in no- thingbetter or wiser thanthey, who fell into the utmost folly andwickedness, in their designs for the highest end, or the representation of God unto us. The more we dwell on such considerations, the more fear and rever- ence of God, with faith, trust and delight in him, will be increased; as also humility in ourselves, with a sense of divine grace and love. 2. There is a peculiar ground of the spiritual effica- cy of this representationof God. The revelation that he bath made of himself, and of the glorious properties of his nature, in the works of creation and providence, are in themselves clear, plain, and manifest, Psal. xix. 1, 2. Rom. i. 21, 22. Those which are made in Christ are sublimeand mysterious. Howbeit the know- ledge we have of him, as he is represented unto us in Christ, is far more clear, certain, steady, effectual, and operative, than any we can attain, in and by all other ways of revelation. The reason hereof is, not only because there is a more f:dl and extensive revelation made of God, his counsels, and his will, in Christ and the gospel, than in all the worksof creation and providence ; but because this revelation and repre- sentation of God is received byfaith alone, the otherby reason only; and it is faith that is the principle ofspi- ritual light and life in us. What is received thereby is operative and effectual unto all the endsof the lifeof God. For we live byfaithhere, as we shall by sight hereafter. Reason alone, especially asit iscorrupted and depraved, can discern no glory in the representation of God by Christ. Yea, all that is spoken thereof, or declared in the gospel, isfoolishnessunto it. Hence many live in a profession of the faith of the letter of the gospel, yet having no light, guide, nor conduct, but that of rea- son, they do not, they cannot really behold the gloryof God in theface ofJesus Christ; nor bath the revelation of it any efficacy upon their souls. The manifestation of him in the light of nature, by the works of creation and providence, is suited unto their reason, and doth affect it: for that which is made in Christ, they say of it as the Israelites did of manna that came down from heaven, What is it? we know not the meaning of it: for it is made untofaith alone, and all men have not faith. And where God shines into the heart, by that faith which is of divine operation,' there with open face zee behold the glory of God as in a glass, or have the 8.1 knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. There is not the meanest believer, but in the real exercise of faith in Christ, hath more glorious app prehension of God, his wisdom, goodness and grace, of all his glorious excellencies, than the most learned and wise in the world can attain unto, in the exercise of reason, on the proper objects of it. So are these things opposed by the apostle, 1 Cor. i. Wherefore faith in Christ is the only means of the true knowledge of God and the discoveries which are made of him, and his excellencies thereby, are those alone which are effectual to conform as unto his image and likeness. And this is the reasonwhysome men are so little affect- ed with thegospel, notwithstanding the continualpreach- ing of it unto them, and their outward profession of it: it doth not inwardly affect them, it produceth no bless- ed effects in them. Some sense they have of the power of God,,in the works of creation and providence, -in his rule and government; and in the workings of natural conscience: beyond these they have no real senseof him. The reason is, because they have notfaith, whereby a- lone the representation that is made of God in Christ, and declared in the gospel, is made effectual unto the souls of men. Wherefore, 8. It is the highest degeneracy from the mystery of Christian religion, for men to satisfy themselves in na- tural discoveries of the divine Being and excellencies, without an acquaintance with, that perfect declaration and representation of them, which is made in the per- son of Christ, as he is revealed and declared in thegos- pel. It is confessed, that there maybe good use made of the evidence which reason gives, or takes from its own innate principles, with the consideration ofthe external works of divine wisdom and power, concerning the be- ing and rule of God. But to rest herein, to esteem it the best and most perfective knowledge of God that we can attain, not to rise up unto the more full, perfect, and evident manifestation of himself that he hath made in Christ, is a declaration of our unbelief, and a virtual renunciation of the gospel. This is the spring of that declension unto a mere natural religion, which discovers itself in many, and usually ends in the express denial of the divine person of Christ: for when the proper useof it is despised, on what grounds can the notion of it be long retained? But supposition of his divineperson is the foundation of this discourse. Were he not the es-