A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
by Steve West
Editor’s Note: Most of our readers will already be at least somewhat acquainted with John Owen (1616-1683), “the prince of Puritans,” but it is not likely that many have read him extensively. His works are not only voluminous – they are tightly packed and deeply considered. Owen is neither quick nor light reading!
Today we continue our year-long series of summaries of Owen’s famous works. We trust these will be of help in introducing and/or increasing your acquaintance with this giant Puritan theologian.
Summary, Part 4
The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded
Many will admit that they find themselves at a loss when it comes to fixing their thoughts on spiritual, heavenly things and meditating upon them. They do not deny the goodness of doing so, but their minds wander and they find it much easier to focus on other things. This state is common, but it should abash us and humble us. Nothing is more worthy of our thoughts, and if it wasn’t for sin we would have no difficulty in this regard. The primary cause of our struggle is the vanity of our own mind, and although it is defeated by grace it is not yet subdued and it rises up to oppose our growth in everything spiritual, especially contemplation. None will be perfect in this world, but many can grow much greater in this area than they do.
If we feed the vanity of our minds, think on earthly things, and fail to mortify sin, we will never engage in spiritual meditation effectively. Be very humble, and recognize that without grace and the Spirit you will never raise your thoughts to heaven as you ought. We tend to think that our thoughts are our own and under our control, but spiritual mindedness cannot be created on our own. We do not have a natural sufficiency for these things, so our sufficiency must come from God. Whatever grace we are given for spiritual thoughts and meditation, we will never be effective in it unless we labor diligently in the exercise. It is absolutely necessary to continually fight against enemies and temptations within and without. Some will say that this is too hard and would take up all of life, but if we do not do these things, we will not have life or peace. Being spiritually minded will not destroy your ability to concentrate on lawful callings and concerns in this world; rather, they will be sanctified.
Our thoughts should continually run to spiritual things, but we also need to set apart regular times for concentrated reflection. Prepare your minds for these times, and go in with an earnest desire and expectation that you will be renewed and refreshed in spiritual things. When you are struggling, do not rely on your own strength but cry out to God. It may help to have something particular in your mind, something which has been impressed upon you (like a particular text or point in a sermon). When you are weak and seem to make little progress, do not despair, but lean on God’s mercy. . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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