Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
let the poor and needy praise your name. Psalm 74:21
What are the marks of the poor in spirit? (1.) They are humble at the sight of their graces. Carnal hearts are puffed up, but a gracious heart sees enough in its graces to make it humble. (2.) The poor in spirit think it a small thing if others receive more respect and honour. They have no cause for envy or to be troubled. It is rather a wonder what they do have. They trust God’s providence. (3.) They admire every little good they receive, considering it much. They wonder at every affliction that it is not more, and are thankful for every mercy. The world is troubled that their afflictions are great and their mercies so little. The poor in spirit do not murmur and repine, but wonder that God lays his hand so tenderly upon them as he does. (4.) The poor in spirit are praying men. They cannot live without prayer, and must go day after day to seek God. (5.) They are admires and great extollers of free grace. Whatever they have, they look upon as undeserved. (6.) The poor in spirit are emptied of self. Whatever they have in themselves, or whatever they do, they do not rest upon it for their eternal good; they are sensible of their own poverty. (7.) They are willing for God to choose their condition. Their comforts, abilities, worth, and wages can be safely left wholly to God: ‘Here I am, let God do with me as he wills. I lie at this mercy.’ (8.) They do not look upon the rich and honourable as the most excellent, but those who have the highest grace; ‘O how happy would I be if I could so walk with god and overcome my corruptions!’ This is poverty of spirit indeed. (9.) The poor in spirit are willing to wait. Though God does not come according to their desires, they are content to wait upon God. (10.) They are struck with reverence for the greatness of God and the authority of his Word, and they yield their spirit to it.
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