His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” John 2:17
Zeal is like fire, ever climbing and aspiring higher; aiming beyond that which was before and aiming on toward perfection. Zeal desires more. It advances and grows from strength to strength, in and out of season. Lazy Christians think zeal is too strait-laced: ‘Why not use Christian liberty in some recreations?’ Zeal will cut off the right hand if it causes him to offend. If anything is praiseworthy, it embraces it. If anything is doubtful, it will not touch it. True zeal will strive to purge itself, as Christ is pure. Will true Christianity allow us to bear with any sin? A hot iron cannot help but hiss if cold water is cast on it. Does not a righteous soul vex itself at open evil? Those who can digest profane and filthy language reveal what devotion they have for the Lord of hosts. The best way for self-examination is to compare our devotion to God with our dealing in other affairs in which we delight. Fire cannot be long smothered; it will either find a vent or go out. There are indeed many vanities that distract and divide the mind of worldlings, but zeal counts only one thing needful. It makes all other things yield and stand by. Herod, for pleasure, will you give up half your kingdom? What will some gentlemen give for hawks and hounds? Does any manage his time so carefully that he will not steal one hour for his pleasure? Can he not spare his God and his soul half an hour morning and evening, and a sermon or two in the week? The soul needs its nourishment as well as the body, Why is it that these sit on thorns during a sermon, more than at a play? Why is a Sabbath longer than a holiday? Is it not lack of zeal? Deal honestly and plainly with your soul. Test yourself by these rules, and if you judge yourself to come short of them, amend and ‘be zealous!’
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