by John Owen
Modernized, formatted, corrected, and annotated (in blue) © by William H. Gross www.onthewing.org
A DISCOURSE CONCERNING THE HOLY SPIRIT IN WHICH AN ACCOUNT IS GIVEN OF HIS NAME, NATURE, PERSONALITY, OPERATIONS, AND EFFECTS; HIS WHOLE WORK IN THE OLD AND NEW CREATION IS EXPLAINED; THE DOCTRINE CONCERNING IT IS VINDICATED FROM OPPOSITION AND REPROACH. THE NATURE AND NECESSITY OF GOSPEL HOLINESS; THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GRACE AND MORALITY — OR A SPIRITUAL LIFE LIVED TO GOD IN EVANGELICAL OBEDIENCE, AND A COURSE OF MORAL VIRTUES — ARE STATED AND DECLARED.
from THE WORKS OF JOHN OWEN EDITED BY WILLIAM H. GOOLD VOLUME 3
This Edition of THE WORKS OF JOHN OWEN first published by Johnstone & Hunter, 1850-53
This is a restatement and simplification of John Owen's original work, but not a paraphrase. Its purpose is to make it more accessible to a modern audience of believers, not just theologians. You may reproduce the text so long as you do not change it or sell it to anyone. This restriction is placed on it so that the propagation of any errors in the modernized language is limited. If someone rephrases my rephrasing, the treatise will quickly degenerate into a misstatement rather than a restatement of Owen's work.
What changes have been made?
The old English wording has been modernized, so that "thee" and "thou" are now "you" and "yours." American spelling has been largely employed (labor instead of labour). Inline scripture references may be superscripted to aid readability. Additional references are superscripted in blue. Roman numerals were changed to Arabic and corrected as needed. The difficult structure and syntax were simplified. Sentences in many cases were split into several sentences for ease of reading. Parallelism has been employed to maintain rhythm and clarity. The word "peculiar" is variously rendered "particular", "unique", "special," or "specific," depending on the context. Unreferenced pronouns and "understood" words have been made explicit. Now, Owen may have left personal pronouns ambiguous to reflect the mystery of the Godhead; but it was more obscure than mysterious. The passive voice is often changed to active. Duplicated texts, digressions not affecting the content, and alternate phrasings within the same sentence, have been removed for easier comprehension. Little-used words have either been annotated or replaced with simpler ones. Owen's wordiness has been reduced where possible. Formatting has also been revised (paragraph and page breaks, bullet points, etc.).
There are two unusual uses of language that have been retained in the text. The first is Owen's repeated use of "afterward" — "it will be fully explained afterward." He doesn't mean at some unspecified time later in the book. He means it in a sequential and orderly sense. He will first handle the topic at hand, and then get to the other aspect immediately "afterward."
The second unusual use of language involves the words "act, actings, actual, and actually." He uses the transitive form; we tend to use the intransitive prepositional form. We say that we "act in faith," or we "act under grace," and the Spirit imparts the grace that we act under. But Owen says that the Holy Spirit "acts grace" in us, and we "act faith" (rather than "act out our faith"). Actings are repeated acts of this kind; actual and actually are the proper adjectival and adverb forms of "act" (whereas today we use those forms to mean real and really). Owen describes a God-given "principle" – not a value, but an ability or a compelling power in us — that we act, or actuate, according to its purposes. We act the graces that He communicates to us by this principle. So, the Spirit imparts this principle to us, employing it to effect its purposes, using its real power in and through us, to produce its intended effects. And we freely participate by acting it — i.e., by putting that principle into gracious and holy action using our regenerated faculties. But in some instances, "acted" was changed to "moved," to be less distracting.
Language today continues to deteriorate as visual and auditory media replace written media. So Goold's mid-19th century prefatory and analytical notes, have also been modernized a bit to ensure they are more readily understood. ORIGINAL NOTES are in black, some ending with "— Ed." My notes are in blue, some ending with "— WHG." All page number references are the original page numbers of the 1850-53 edition, which are displayed intra-text.
Latin, Greek, and Hebrew phrases have either been removed from the body of the text (where they were more of a distraction than a help), or Anglicized with the Strong's number (NT:xxxx or OT:xxxxx). Some required clarifying text to make the point explicit. But Owen's full argument, supporting text, and style remain, as do William Goold's footnotes in their original languages. If you would like the digitized 1853 edition, with appendices cross-referencing both the Scriptures and original language used in the text, please consult CCEL's edition here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/pneum.html.
My aim is not to preserve Owen's text, but his teaching. It would be a shame if a modern audience didn't benefit from his labors because his language was too complex, archaic, or arcane to grasp. As with each of these restatements, I hope this one makes it more accessible to you, bringing home the wonder and importance of the doctrines of the Holy Spirit that Dr. Owen drew from Scripture, and vividly explains here.
There are few works on the Holy Spirit that have not been influenced by the Holiness movement of the 1800s, or the Charismatic movement of the 1920s. And there are few if any scholarly works outside those movements, that haven't drawn on this particular work of Dr. Owen to bring balance back to our view of the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Please read William Goold's Prefatory Note to understand where this treatise fits with regard to Quakers and Quietism, which was just then arising. See also the note on p. 527, and Owen's caustic description on p. 556.
In Owen's introduction, "To the Readers," you'll see the same objections to dry rationalism that Jonathan Edwards later expressed in his treatise on Religious Affections (1746). Yet both men objected as well to the unfounded emotionalism that was rampant in their day — the term used then was "enthusiastic" or "enthusiasm." They weren't decrying passionate belief. Rather, they insisted that our passion must be born, provoked, and enlarged only by God's truth. Both extremes, cold intellectualism and wild enthusiasm, remain evident in our own day; and so the balance that Owen provides here is still greatly needed, and it will be useful to every believer.
Over the past 350 years, scholars have improved little upon Dr. Owen's labors. He gave glory to God by relying solely on the authority of Scripture for the things which he taught, as the contents of this treatise will amply demonstrate. It is a profound and wonderful work: I pray that you may enjoy and be edified by it. It has such a repetition and rhythm to it — of the doctrines, principles, and text of Scripture concerning God's Spirit — that you needn't worry if you don't get it all at the first reading of a portion. He will so drive it, drive it, drive it throughout, that it becomes fixed in your heart and soul — at least, it has mine. William H. Gross www.onthewing.org Mar 2011
TABLE OF CONENTS
To the Readers.
Chapter I. General principles concerning the Holy Spirit and his work.
Chapter II. The name and titles of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter III. Divine nature and personality of the Holy Spirit proved and vindicated.
Chapter IV. Particular works of the Holy Spirit in the first or old creation.
Chapter V. Way and manner of the divine dispensation of the Holy Spirit.
Chapter I. Particular operations of the Holy Spirit under the Old Testament preparatory for the New.
I. Extraordinary Works of the Spirit.
2. The Writing of Scripture
II. Ordinary Works of the Spirit.
1. In respect to political things.
2. In respect to moral virtues.
3. In respect to natural abilities.
4. In respect to the intellect.
Chapter II. General dispensation of the Holy Spirit with respect to the new creation.
Chapter III. Work of the Holy Spirit with respect to the head of the new creation - the human nature of Christ.
Christ as Head of the Church
I. Respecting the Person of Jesus Christ
Chapter IV. Work of the Holy Spirit in and on the human nature of Christ.
II. Respecting Others on behalf of Christ
Chapter V. The general work of the Holy Spirit in the new creation with respect to the members of that body of which Christ is the head.
Chapter I. Work of the Holy Spirit in the new creation by regeneration.
Chapter II. Works of the Holy Spirit preparatory to regeneration.
Chapter III. Corruption or depravation of the mind by sin.
Chapter IV. Life and death, natural and spiritual, compared.
Chapter V. The nature, causes, and means of regeneration.
Chapter VI. The manner of conversion explained in the instance of Augustine.
Chapter I. The nature of sanctification and gospel holiness explained.
Chapter II. Sanctification is a progressive work.
Chapter III. Believers are the only object of sanctification, and subject of gospel holiness.
Chapter IV. The defilement of sin, what it consists in, with its purification.
Chapter V. The filth of sin is purged by the Spirit, and the blood of Christ.
Chapter VI. The positive work of the Spirit in the sanctification of believers.
Chapter VII. Of the acts and duties of holiness.
Chapter VIII. Mortification of sin, the nature and causes of it.
Chapter I. Necessity of holiness from the consideration of the nature of God.
Chapter II. Eternal election is a cause of and motive for holiness.
Chapter III. Holiness is necessary from the commands of God.
Chapter IV. Necessity of holiness from God's sending Jesus Christ.
Chapter V. Necessity of holiness from our condition in this world.
Book VI. Part I. THE REASON OF FAITH;
Chapter I. The Work of the Holy Ghost in the illumination of the minds of men
Chapter II. What it means to infallibly believe that the Scripture is the Word of God
Chapter III. Various convincing external arguments for divine revelation.
Chapter IV. Moral certainty, as the result of external arguments, is insufficient.
Chapter V. Divine revelation itself is the only foundation and reason of faith.
Chapter VI. The nature of divine revelations
Chapter VII. Inferences from the whole — Some objections answered.
Appendix to Book VI — Part I.
Book VI. Part II. UNDERSTANDING THE MIND OF GOD.
Chapter I. Usurpation by Rome of the Interpretation of Scripture
Chapter II. The general assertion confirmed with testimonies of the Scripture
Chapter III. Other testimonies pleaded in confirmation of the same truth.
Chapter IV. The work of the Holy Spirit in the illumination of our mind
Chapter V. Causes of ignorance of the mind of God
Chapter VI. The Scripture as a means of sacred illumination
Chapter VII. The right understanding of the mind of God in the Scripture
Chapter VIII. Disciplinarian means for the interpretation of the Scripture
Chapter IX. Ecclesiastical Helps in the interpretation of the Scripture.
The Preservation of God's Word
Book VII. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN PRAYER
Preface to the reader.
Chapter I. The use of prayer, and the work of the Holy Spirit in it.
Chapter II. Zec 12.10 explained and vindicated.
Chapter III. Gal 4.6 explained and vindicated.
Chapter IV. The nature of prayer — Rom 8.26 explained and vindicated.
Chapter V. The work of the Holy Spirit as to the matter of prayer.
Chapter VI. What the due manner of prayer consists in.
Chapter VII. The nature of prayer in general; its forms — Eph 6.18
Chapter VIII. The duty of external prayer by virtue of a spiritual gift, explained and vindicated.
Chapter IX. Duties inferred from the preceding discourse.
Chapter X. Of mental prayer as pretended to by some in the Church of Rome.
Chapter XI. Spiritual ability in prayer, in opposition to prescribed forms of prayer
Book VIII. THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HIS WORK: two discourses
Analysis of the first treatise.
Analysis of the second treatise.
A DISCOURSE — OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AS A COMFORTER.
Chapter I. The Holy Ghost the comforter of the church by way of office
Chapter II. General properties of the office of a comforter.
Chapter III. To whom the Holy Spirit is promised and given as a comforter
Chapter IV. Inhabitation of the Spirit is the first thing promised.
Chapter V. How the Holy Spirit acts as an Unction
Chapter VI. The Spirit is a seal, and how.
Chapter VII. The Spirit is an earnest, and how.
The Application of the Foregoing Discourse.
A DISCOURSE — OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
Chapter I. Spiritual gifts, their names and meaning.
Chapter II. Differences between spiritual gifts and saving grace.
Chapter III. Of extraordinary gifts and offices; first, of offices.
Chapter IV. Extraordinary spiritual gifts, 1Cor 12.4-11.
Chapter V. The origin, duration, use, and end, of extraordinary spiritual gifts.
Chapter VI. Of ordinary gifts of the Spirit
Chapter VII. Of spiritual gifts enabling the ministry
Chapter VIII. Of the gifts of the Spirit with respect to doctrine, worship, and rule.