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Prefatory note.

The following work is the latter part of our author’s treatise on the operations of the Holy Spirit in illuminating the minds of believers, and relates to the method by which we are to understand and interpret Scripture aright, as the former part of it was occupied exclusively with a discussion of the evidence or grounds on which we receive it as divine.

In the preceding treatise, on “The Reason of Faith,” Owen, while defending the objective authority of the Word, in opposition to the principle of an “inward light,” asserted and proved the necessity of spiritual influence for the due reception of the Word in its divine authority. His argument in the present treatise has “especial respect unto the Church on Rome,” and, on the principle that every man has a right to interpret Scripture, opens with a denial of the claim of that church to be the only interpreter of Scripture. The Quaker and the Romanist agree in holding the subordination of Scripture to another authority in matters of faith, — the former finding this authority in his inward light, the latter vesting it in the church. Our author, in common with the general body of Protestants, asserts the sufficiency of revelation in itself as a rule of faith and duty, provided it be read and understood in the enjoyment of the enlightening influence of the Spirit, and in the use of certain divinely appointed means.

This treatise, if not among the best known, is among the most useful, of our author’s works. The subject is of confessed importance, and he handles it with all his characteristic sagacity. Singularly coherent, and comprehensive in its details, less prolix than most of his works, and free from irrelevant digressions, it is not to this day superseded by any similar treatise on the same subject, and forms an excellent manual for all who are engaged in sacred studies as a profession. Dr Pye Smith, in his “Scripture Testimony to the Messiah,” quotes from it copiously, in illustration of the spirit with which the study of the divine Word should be prosecuted, nor has he by any means exhausted the noble and weighty sentiments which occur in this work, expressive of humble reverence for its supreme authority. Owen in himself exemplifies the benefit sure to accrue from the prostration or every claim and gift before the throne of revealed truth Few have surpassed him in “the full assurance of understanding.”

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