SHEWING THAT COMMON AND SAVING GRACE DIFFER, NOT ONLY IN DEGREE, BUT IN NATURE AND KIND.
“What has more especially given offence to many, and raised a loud cry against some preachers, as though their conduct were intolerable, is their frightening poor innocent children with talk of hell-fire, and eternal damnation. But if those who complain so loudly of this, really believe what is the general profession of the country, viz. That all are by nature the children of wrath, and heirs of hell— and that every one that has not been born again, whether he be young or old, is exposed every moment to eternal destruction— then such a complaint and cry as this betrays a great deal of weakness and inconsideration. Innocent as children seem to us, yet, if they are out of Christ, they are not so in the sight of God.”
The third part of this lengthy treatise – The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded – has never been narrated before, but must be included in the best of Owen’s works on Christian practice. Owen wrote, “The great contest of heaven and earth is about the affections of the poor worm which we call man. That the world should contend for them is no wonder; it is the best that it can pretend unto. But that the holy God should as it were engage in the contest and strive for the affections of man, is an effect of infinite condescension and grace.” Works Vol. 7 p. 484. If any Christian wants to know what it is to “love the world” and to “be crucified” to it, this is the book he should read, and now listen to.
It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ. It is plainly by this means, principally, that he has prevailed against all revivals of religion, since the first founding of the christian church.
I much question what assistance he will have from God in his temptation who willingly enters into it, because he supposes God hath promised to deliver him out of it. The Lord knows that, through the craft of Satan, the subtlety and malice of the world, the deceitfulness of sin, that doth so easily beset us, when we have done our utmost, yet we shall enter into divers temptations. In his love, care, tenderness, and faithfulness, he hath provided such a sufficiency of grace for us, that they shall not utterly prevail to make an everlasting separation between him and our souls.
The highest degree to which a temporary believer can possibly attain, described by the apostle Paul, Heb. 6, which yet falls short of that saving work, wrought in a sincere believer, there spoken of by him. Apostacy and the Temporary Believer
Christian gains assurance soon after leaving the house of the interpreter
This is the testimony of a young friend that may be found useful for those who have been under awakening and have struggled with assurance.
Men may have a multitude of thoughts about the affairs of their callings and the occasions of life, which yet may give no due measure of the inward frame of their hearts. So men whose calling and work it is to study the Scripture, or the things revealed therein, and to preach them unto others, cannot but have many thoughts about spiritual things, and yet may be, and oftentimes are, most remote from being spiritually minded.
And when the last trial is closed and their incorrigible barrenness is evinced, why should they not be cut down and cast into the fire? They never will bear fruit. They will only remain cumberersof the ground. Why should they be spared? It is reasonable that barren figtrees, after all hope of their fruitfulness is gone, should be removed out of the way, and, since they can be of no other use, should be made fuel for the fire. And if fruitless men had any ingenuousness in them, they would not desire to be left to cumber God’s ground. If they will not do any good, they ought not to wish to do hurt.