John Owen:

Flesh and blood is apt to have very hard thoughts of him — to think he is always angry, yea, implacable; that it is not for poor creatures to draw nigh to him. . .

Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God — that there is still an indisposedness [unwillingness] of spirit unto close walking with him.

What is at the bottom of this distemper?

Is it not their unskillfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love?

So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more.

Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him.

This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with him.

If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?

Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.

John Owen, Communion with the Triune God, pp. 126, 128.

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5 thoughts on “What a 17th Century Puritan Wants You to Do with Your “Hard Thoughts” about God”

  1. Mike Francis says:

    Bring it, Brother O!

  2. Rob Hulson says:

    I cannot emphasize just how important and freeing this is.

    “Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from him.” I have never experienced so much reigning over sin in my life than when I have “exercised”, through practice, confessing that I am the righteousness of God in Christ and fully accepted before him, *especially* when I’m tempted or even sinning.

    For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who RECEIVE the ABUNDANCE OF GRACE and the FREE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS **reign in life** through the one man Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17 ESV)

  3. Gary H. says:

    This…is brilliant, live-giving. And in the history of Evangelical Christianity in America, this has mostly been lost.

  4. Bruce Russell says:

    He is your Father, ask, seek, knock, wait and watch Him prove it to you.

  5. Barry says:

    simply Dynamite!!

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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