Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

John Owen

I was listening to the biography of John Owen on my way to work (see Piper’s notes on this: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Biographies/). There are many things that are amazing about Owen, but I was especially amazed by the attitude of this man of God.  He had 11 children of which 1o died young (as children).  He actually outlived his wife and only daughter who made it to adulthood. (He had on the average a child die every 3 years).  In spite of all this – his writings to not seem to betray any bitterness toward God.  He is rather passionate about Holiness and the glory of God!!! He definitely reminds me of biblical Job who  lost all 10 of his children (but all at the same time).

He has also taught me about the amazing providence of God.  This is something worth sharing, and it is also great as an illustration for Romans 8:28 etc.  I am posting a section of the article by Piper about the relationship between Owen and Bunyan:

Owen and Bunyan

It’s not clear to me why some Puritans at this time were in prison and others, like Owen were not. Part of the explanation was how openly they preached. Part of it was that Owen was a national figure with connections in high places. Part of it was that the persecution was not nationally uniform, but some local officials were more rigorous than others.

But whatever the explanation it is remarkable the relationship that John Owen had in these years with John Bunyan who spent too many of them in prison. One story says that King Charles II asked Owen one time why he bothered going to hear an uneducated Tinker like Bunyan preach. Owen replied, “Could I posses the tinker’s abilities for preaching, please your majesty, I would gladly relinquish all my learning” (see note 32).

One of the best illustrations of God’s hiding a smiling face behind a frowning providence is the story of how Owen failed to help Bunyan get out of prison. Repeatedly when Bunyan was in prison Owen worked for his release with all the strings he could pull. But to no avail. But when John Bunyan came out in 1676 he brought with him a manuscript “the worth and importance of which can scarcely be comprehended” (see note 33). In fact Owen met with Bunyan and recommended his own publisher, Nathaniel Ponder. The partnership succeeded, and the book that has probably done more good, after the Bible, was released to the world—all because Owen failed in his good attempts to get Bunyan released, and because he succeeded in finding him a publisher. The lesson: “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,/but trust him for his grace;/behind a frowning providence/he hides a smiling face.”

Blessings and grace to all!

One response

  1. Daniel Buda

    Really, really interesting lives! How hard it is for us, though, to even conceive of this stuff in our lives, let alone endure it! We are probably so much weaker than we think we are!

    October 15, 2007 at 3:42 pm

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