The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
The work of conversion is completely of God. God alone frames our hearts to the obedience of his will. This must be so as we consider the nature of man. Man is stark blind in the things of God. Every man has a heat of stone, insensible and inflexible. How many times does the Word of God work upon him to no purpose! Sin is an overruling master, and man a willing servant. Sin never stops commanding and we are at its beck and call. Man is blind with a hard heart (Eph. 418). He is an enemy to the law of God (Rom. 8:7), and cannot please God. He does not even desire a guide. If someone directs him into the right way he becomes angry. He is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:5). He is worse than dead, his life is alive to resist and rebel against God. What a miserable, wretched creature man is! There is nothing in man’s nature to carry him to grace. In conversion, God must work or he can never be renewed. To remedy so great an evil requires almighty power. God must open our understanding and our hearts (Eph. 1:18; Acts 16:14). God does not only knock at the heart by his Word, he also opens the heart and enters to take possession. God uses different keys to unlock the door of our hearts. He uses one cross, another affliction, a sermon, and one message after another. It is not however until God puts his fingers upon the hole of the lock that we open. Salvation is expressed by regeneration (John 3:3), resurrection (Eph. 2:5), creation (Eph.2:10), and light out of darkness (2 Cor. 4:6). We are called new creatures, and are overcome by God’s power (2 Cor. 10:4). What a mystery is grace, and the power of God that works in us! ‘He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus’ (1 Cor. 1:30).
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