« PreviousContinue »
THE HOLY SPIRIT:
WHEREIN AN ACCOUNT IS GIVEN OF HIS
NAME, NATURE, PERSONALITY, DISPENSATION,
OPERATIONS, AND EFFECTS:
J.H. Cunningham, printer.
Found in Selang Pamunt
Among the numerous and valuable Works of Dr. Owen, his “Discourse on the Holy Spirit" claims a principal place: it has been thought by some, “ An EPITOME, if not the Master-Piece, of his Writings.' The subject is certainly of the greatest importance; and it is managed with that depth of judgment, solidity of argument, and fervour of piety which characterize his Theological Performances: but notwithstanding the intrinsic excellence of the work, it is undoubtedly too large, too learned, and too expensive for the generality of serious readers. It is, therefore, rather extraordinary that no Abridgment of it has yet appeared. The Doctrine of the Scriptures concerning the Holy Spirit and his gracious operations in the Church, is so intimately connected with every branch of Gospel Truth, and every part of Christian Experience, that a good Discourse upon it must be useful at any time; but if we consider how much the divine influences on the human mind are now slighted by some, and ridiculed by others, the republication of this admirable Treatise will appear peculiarly seasonable.
Dr. Owen, like many of his contemporaries, was a voluminous writer. Prolixity was the fashion of the age. Indeed, his profound learning, penetration, and experience, enabled him to exhaust every subject that he undertook; and it may be observed, that when the Divines of that day were cxcluded from their Pulpits by persecution, and devoted their talents to the Press,
the people read with avidity in the Closet" what they
The utility of Abridgments, when properly executed, is sufficiently obvious; and some of the most useful books in every science are of this description. The late Rev. Mr. Hervey much wished that the writings of our venerable ancestors were reduced to a smaller compass. In a Letter to a Friend he thus expresses himself :-"I wish some judicious hand would give us the quintessence of Dr. Owen's Works, each in a size portable both for the pocket and the memory : I really think it would be one of the most substantial acts of service which a Scholar and a Divine could perform for the present age.
The great disparity between a folio and duodecimo volume, may probably induce some persons to think, that only a small proportion of the original is retained. This objection would scarcely have been made to an octavo; and the Editor assures the reader, that much more matter is contained in this Abridgment than is generally found in a volume of that size. The Original is printed with a large type, in a small page; the Abridgment, with a small letter in a full page. The Author's large and numerous Quotations from the Greek and Latio Fathers are omitted; many extended digressions are passed over ; the sense of many a long and perplexed sentence is carefully preserved in fewer words; and the repetition of the same sentiment, which sometimes occured in one long paragraph, is studiously avoided. By these means, the substance of this excellent but prolix book is reduced to a moderate size; but such was the Editor's veneration for the memory
of Dr. Owen, as well as his regard to fidelity, that no liberty whatever has been taken with the sense of the
Author, nor the least wilful misrepresentation made of his views in a single instance. The method also of the original work remains unaltered.
To render this abridgement more complete, the Editor has made some valuable Extracts from other Treatises, composed by Dr. Owen, on those parts of the Work of the Spirit which were not comprised in the folio volume. It seems to be but little known that, copious and excellent as that volume is, it contained but a part of the author's original Plan; for, in his Preface, he thus expresses himself :-“ These things, with several others of the like nature, falling unavoidably uuder consideration, have drawn out these Discourses unto a length far beyond my first design; which is also the reason that I have forborne to add to them those other parts of The work of the Spirit in prayer,-in Illumination, with respect to the right understanding the Mind of God in the Scriptures,-in the Communication of Spiritual Gifts to the Church, -and in the Consolation of Believers ; which must now wait for another opportunity."
The Editor begs leave to observe, That Dr. Owen afterwards composed a Treatise on each of these important subjects; two of which were published by himself; and two others were published after his death, by the Rev. Nathaniel Mather.
From these four able Discourses, copious Extracts are made in the APPENDIX ;* and the Editor conceives that the Reader will not only judge that they are necessary to complete a Discourse on the Work of the Spirit, but that they form some of the most valuable parts of it.
With what judgment and propriety the Editor bas performed the difficult task, and whether he has omitted or altered too much or too little, must be left to the decision of the Public. Many imperfections will probably be discerned by a critical eye. However, he has the satisfaction of reflecting, that he has sincerely en
* Those on Illumination and Spiritual Gifts are now added to this third edition,