John Owen on Romans chapter 1 verses 19 to 20

John Owen

His Christology

2. There is a peculiar ground of the spiritual efficacy of this

representation of God. The revelations that he has made of himself,

and of the glorious properties of his nature, in the works of

creation and providence, are, in themselves, clear, plain, and

manifest: Psalm 19: 1, 2; Romans 1:19, 20. Those which are made

in Christ are sublime and mysterious. Howbeit, the knowledge we

have of him as he is represented unto us in Christ is far more clear,

certain, steady, effectual and operative, than any we can attain in

and by all other ways of revelation. The reason hereof is, not only

because there is a more full and extensive revelation made of God,

his counsels and his will, in Christ and the gospel, than in all the

works of creation and providence; but because this revelation and

representation of God is received by faith alone, the other by

reason only: and it is faith that is the principle of spiritual light and

life in us. What is received thereby is operative and effectual, unto

all the ends of the life of God. For we live by faith here, as we shall

by sight hereafter. Reason alone — especially as it is corrupted and

depraved — can discern no glory in the representation of God by

Christ; yes, all that is spoken thereof, or declared in the Gospel, is

foolishness unto it. Hence many live in a profession of the faith of

the letter of the Gospel, yet — having no light, guide, nor conduct,

but that of reason — they do not, they cannot, really behold the

glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; nor has the revelation of it

any efficacy upon their souls. The manifestation of him in the light


of nature, by the works of creation and providence, is suited unto

their reason, and does affect it: for that [manifestation] which is

made in Christ, they say of it, as the Israelites did of manna, that

came down from heaven, “What is it?” we know not the meaning

of it. For it is made unto faith alone, and all men have not faith.

And where God shines into the heart, by that faith which is of

divine operation — there, with “open face, we behold the glory of

God, as in a glass;” or have the knowledge of the glory of God in

the face of Jesus Christ. There is not the meanest believer, but —

in the real exercise of faith in Christ has more glorious

apprehensions of God, his wisdom, goodness, and grace, of all his

glorious excellencies, than the most learned and wise in the world

can attain unto, in the exercise of reason on the proper objects of it.

So are these things opposed by the apostle, 1 Corinthians 1.

Wherefore, faith in Christ is the only means of the true knowledge

of God; and the discoveries which are made of him and his

excellencies thereby are those stone which are effectual to conform

us unto his image and likeness. And this is the reason why some

men are so little affected with the Gospel — notwithstanding the

continual preaching of it unto them, and their outward profession

of it. It does not inwardly affect them, it produceth no blessed

effects in them. Some sense they have of the power of God in the

works of creation and providence, in his rule and government, and

in the workings of natural conscience. Beyond these, they have no

real sense of him. The reason is, because they have not faith —

whereby alone the representation that is made of God in Christ,

and declared in the gospel, is made effectual unto the souls of men.

John Owen Christologia chapter 2 page 101


 He was also padre to Cromwell in charge of the roundheads in the English Civil War.

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