John Owen – Quotes

I have been reading John Owen, and I am profoundly struck by his insight. I have found these lines below of special importance to myself and I believe them to be common with all Christians. So read on. I hope to post new quotes from his books as I read them because they are so helpful.

From the Book “Indwelling Sin in Believers”

“Wherever you are, whatever you are about, this law of sin is always in you; in the best that you do, and in the worst. Men little consider what a dangerous companion is always at home with them”

“Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before”

“We know not the hearts of one another; we know not our own hearts as we ought.”

“There is not way for us to pursue sin in its unsearchable habitations but by being endless in out pursuit… Let us, then reckon on it, that there is no way out to have our work done but by always doing of it; and he who dies fighting in this warfare dies assuredly a conqueror.

” “Search me, O God, and try me” (Psalm 139:23) As if [David] had said, “It is but a little that I know of my deceitful heart, only I would be sincere; I would not have reserves for sin retained therein. Wherefore do you, who are present with my heart (that is, God), who knows my thoughts long before, undertake this work, perform it thoroughly, for you alone are able so to do.” “

” “Keep your foot when you go to the house of God” (Eccles 5:1) – “Have you any spiritual duty to perform, and do you design the attaining of any communion with God? Look to yourself, take care of your affections; they will be gadding (straggling, roving) and wandering, and that from their aversation (repulsion) to what you have in hand” “

“Let us consider this aversation (moral repulsion) in such acts of obedience wherein there is no concern but that of God and the soul… as private prayer and meditation… In these will this aversation and loathing oftentimes discover itself in the affections. A secret striving will be in them about close and cordial dealing with God, unless the hand of God in his Spirit be high and strong upon his soul. Even when convictions, sense of duty, dear and real esteem of God and communion with him have carried the soul into its closet, yet if there be not the vigor and power of a spiritual life constantly at work, there will be a secret loathness (unwillingness, reluctance) in them unto duty; yea, sometimes there will be a violent inclination to the contrary, so that the soul had rather do anything, embrace any diversion, though it wound itself thereby, than vigorously apply itself unto that which in the inward man it breathes after. It is weary before it begins, and says, “When will the work be over?” Here God and the soul are immediately concerned; and it is a great conquest to do what we would, though we come exceedingly short of what we should do.”

“Carry about a constant, humbling sense of this close aversation unto spiritualness that yet lies in our nature…. That after all the discoveries that God has made of himself unto [us], all the kindness [we] have received from him, his doing of [us] good and not evil in all things, there should yet be such a heart of unkindness and unbelief still abiding as to have an aversation lying in it to communion with him – how ought the thoughts of it to cast us into the dust! to fill us with shame and self-abhorrency all our days!… What ails, then, our foolish and wretched hearts, to harbor such a cursed secret dislike of [God] and his ways? Let us be ahsamed and astonished at the consideration of it, and walk in humbling sense of it all our days. Let us carry it about with us in the most secret of our thoughts. And as this is a duty in itself acceptable unto God, who delights to dwell witht them that are of humble and contrite spirit [Isa. 57:15], so it is of exceeding efficacy (effectiveness) to the weakening of the evil we treat of.”

“Labor to possess the mind with the beauty and excellency of spiritual things, so that they may be presented lovely and desirable to the soul; and this cursed aversation of sin will be weakened thereby”

“The difference between believers and unbelievers as to knowledge is not so much in the matter of their knowledge as in the manner of knowing. Unbelievers, some of them, may know more and be able to say more of God, his perfections, and his will, than many believers; but they know nothing as they ought, nothing in a right manner, nothing spiritually and savingly, nothing with a holy, heavenly light. The excellency of a believer is, not that he has a large apprehension of things, but that what he does apprehend, which perhaps may be very little, he sees it in the light of the Spirit of God, in a saving, soul-transforming light; and this is that which gives us communion with God, and not prying thoughts or curious-raised notions.”

“There are two things that are suited to humble the souls of men – and they are, first, a due consideration of God, and then of themselves – of God, in his greatness, glory, holiness, power, majesty, and authority; of ourselves, in our lowly, abject, and sinful condition.”

“…Would professing believers walk with so much boldness and security as some do if they considered aright what a deadly watchful enemy they continually carry about with them and in them? Would they so much indulge as they do carnal joys and pleasures, or pursue their perishing affairs with so much delight and greediness as they do? … that we would all apply our hearts to this work – [the consideration of the enemy of sin within] -, even to come to a true understanding of the nature, power, and subtlety of this our adversary, and that our souls may be humbled;”

“The great wisdom and security of the soul in dealing with indwelling sin is to put a violent stop unto its beginnings, its first motions and actings. Venture all on the first attempt. Die rather than yield one step unto it.”

“Where the mind is tainted, the prevalency (of the deceitfulness of sin) must be great; for the mind or understanding is the leading faculty of the soul, and what that fixes on, the will and affections rush after, being capable of no consideration but what that presents unto them. Hence it is, that though the entanglement of the affections unto sin be oftentimes most troublesome, yet the deceit of the mind is always most dangerous, and that because of the place that it possesses in the soul as unto all its operations. Its office is to guide, direct, choose and lead; and “if the light that is in us be darkness, how great is that darkness!” [Matt. 6:23]

“He that walks humbly walks safely”

“This is the trial and touchstone of gospel light: If it keeps the heart sensible of sin, humble, lowly, and broken on that account – if it teaches us to water a free pardon with tears, to detest forgiven sin, to watch diligently for the ruin of that which we are yet assured shall never ruin us – it is divine, from above, of the Spirit of grace. If [the gospel] secretly and insensibly makes men loose and slight in their thoughts about sin, it is adulterate, selfish, false. If [the gospel] will be all, answer all ends, [indwelling sin] is nothing.”

“He whose light has made his way of access plain for the obaining of pardon, if he be not very watchful, he is far more apt to become overly formal and careless in his work than he who, by reason of mists and darkness, beats about to find his way aright to the throne of grace;”

“How often will sin plead, “This strictness, this exactness, this solicitude is no ways needful; relief is provided in the gospel against such things! Would you as though there were no need of the gospel? As though pardon of sin were to no purpose?””


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