It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes. Psalm 119:71
Affliction makes the Word of God sweet. In prosperity, many times we cannot see its sweetness. When God keeps his children fasting from the world’s dainties, how sweet are his words to our taste! Affliction also gives us a compelling desire for the assurance of heaven, especially under life-threatening dangers. What slight evidences we are satisfied with when the candle of the Almighty shines in our tabernacles and prosperity and peace are all around us! In the hour of testing, the sure evidence of an interest in Christ and the love of God is worth ten thousand worlds to us. Nothing will serve the moment but that which is able to endure the trial of fire in the day of Christ. Affliction also draws the soul into sweet and near communion with God. Outward prosperity is a great obstruction to our communion because we inordinately let out our affections to earthly things, and we allow them to come between God and our hearts and interrupt that sweet and constant traffic and fellowship. God’s people offend most in their lawful comforts because here the snare is not so visible as in grosser sins. We are not so watchful against lesser sins. While our hearts re warmed with prosperity we think that small sins can do no great harm, but here we deceive ourselves. The least sin yet has the nature of sin in it, as the least drop of poison is poison. A small sin shows a greater contempt of God since we dishonor him for an insignificant thing (as we count it), and venture his displeasure for a little sensual satisfaction. But not, affliction deadens the heart to the world and makes the conscience tender towards sin. Affliction helps us to pray: ‘Lord, you made my heart for yourself, and it is restless until it can rest in you. Return unto your rest, O my soul!’
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