“What God is in Himself shall alone be the eternal blessedness and reward of our souls” by John Owen

“The remembrance of God delighteth and refresheth the hearts of His saints, and stirs them up unto thankfulness. (Psalm 30:4) They rejoice in what God is in Himself.

Whatever is good, amiable, or desirable; whatever is holy, just, and powerful; whatever is gracious, wise, and merciful, and all that is so,—they see and apprehend in God. That God is what He is, is the matter of their chiefest joy.

Whatever befalls them in this world, whatever troubles and disquietment they are exercised withal, the remembrance of God is a satisfactory refreshment unto them; for therein they behold all that is good and excellent, the infinite centre of all perfections.

Wicked men would have God to be anything but what He is; nothing that God is really and truly pleaseth them. Wherefore, they either frame false notions of Him in their minds (Psalm 50:21), or they think not of Him at all, at least not as they ought, unless sometimes they tremble at His anger and power.

Some benefit they suppose may be had by what He can do, but how there can be any delight in what He is they know not; yea, all their trouble ariseth from hence, that He is what He is. It would be a relief unto them if they could make any abatement of His power, His holiness, His righteousness, His omnipresence.

But His saints, as the psalmist speaks, ‘give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.’ (Psalm 30:4) And when we can delight in the thoughts of what God is in Himself, of His infinite excellencies and perfections, it gives us evidence of our being spiritually minded.

In that it is such an evidence that we have a gracious interest in those excellencies and perfections, whereon we can say with rejoicing in ourselves, ‘This God, this holy, this powerful, this just, this good, and this gracious God, is our God forever and ever. He will be our guide unto death.’

The days are coming wherein what God is in Himself (that is, as manifested and exhibited in Christ), shall alone be, as we hope, the eternal blessedness and reward of our souls.

Is it possible that anything should be more necessary for us, more useful unto us, than to be exercised in such thoughts and contemplations?

One spiritual view of the divine goodness, beauty, and holiness, will have more efficacy to raise the heart unto a contempt of all earthly things than any other evidences whatever.

It is the best, I had almost said it is the only, preparation for the future full enjoyment of God. This will gradually lead us into his presence, take away all fears of death, increase our longing after eternal rest, and ever make us groan to be unclothed.

Let us not, then, cease labouring with our hearts, until, through grace, we have a spiritually-sensible delight and joy in the remembrances and thoughts of what God is in Himself.”

–John Owen, “The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded,” The Works of John Owen: Sin and Grace, Volume 7 (ed. William H. Goold; Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2009),7: 362–364.

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Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, grace, Jesus Christ, John Owen, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Gospel

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