It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes. Psalm 119:71
If we are taught by God in affliction we are blessed. When God teaches, he applies his instruction to the heart. He commands light to shine out of darkness (2 Cor. 4:6). The Holy Spirit brings divine truths in such a clear and convincing light that the soul sits down fully satisfied. The soul both sweetly and freely acquiesces in the revealed truths. When God teaches, the soul experiences truth as David (Psa. 119:71). Some only know notionally, but David knew by experience; he became more acquainted with the Word, more delighted in the Word, and more conformed to the Word. He knew it more, loved it better, and was more transformed in the nature of it. Thus Paul, ‘I know whom I have believed’ (2 Tim. 1:12) – ‘I have experienced his faithfulness and his all-sufficiency; I can trust my all with him. I am sure he will keep it safe to that day.’ Those taught of God in affliction an speak experimentally, in one degree or another. They can speak of their communion with God (Psa. 23:4). The sweet singer of Israel had comfortable experience of the Shepherd’s upholding, counseling, and comforting presence. Those taught of God can say: ‘As we have heard, so have we seen. I have experienced this word upon mine heart, and can set my seal that God is true.’ God’s teaching is a powerful teaching. It conveys strength as well as light. Truth only understood needs to be put into action and practice. God’s teachings are sweet to the taste. David rolled them as sugar under his tongue, and received more sweetness than Samson from his honeycomb. Luther said he would not live in paradise without the Word, but with the Word he could live in hell itself. Teaching is sweet because it is suitable to the renewed man (Jer. 15:16).
Lovers of theology, and particularly of the Puritans, will welcome this English translation of John Owen’s Latin writings. The major portion of this volume is a history of theology from Adam to Christ. Owen characterizes evangelical theology as a gift of the Holy Spirit generating faith in Christ, holiness through Christ, and worship of Christ.
Appendixed to this important work is Owen’s Defense of Scripture against Modern Fanaticism, which is a defense of the authority and proper interpretation of the Bible against the subjectivism of his day.
“Published in Latin in 1661 as a contribution to international Reformed scholarship, this treatise draws on a very wide range of learning. The final part, in particular, where Owen characterizes evangelical theology as a gift of the Holy Spirit generating faith in Christ, holiness through Christ, and worship of Christ, is pure gold. To have it now – at last! – in English is a great boon. Those with a taste for Owen, or for theology, or (best of all) for both, will read this Puritan proto-Biblical Theology with joy.”
– J.I. Packer