To object of Dr Owen in this treatise is to illustrate the
mystery of divine grace in the person of Christ. It bears the title,
"Christologia;" but it differs considerably from modern works of the
same title or character. It is not occupied with a formal induction
from Scripture in proof of the supreme Godhead of the Saviour. Owen
assumes the truth of this doctrine, and applies all his powers and
resources to expound its relations in the Christian system, and its
bearings on Christian duty and experience.
Chapter 1 of the work is devoted to an exposition of Matt.16:16,
as a warrant and basis for his inquiry respecting the person of Christ.
Chapter 2 contains some historical references to the opposition
encountered by this doctrine in past ages. From Chapter 3 to 7
inclusive, the person of Christ is exhibited as the origin of all true
religion, the foundation of the divine counsel, the representation of
the divine nature and will, the embodiment and sum of divine truth,
and the source of divine and gracious efficacy for the salvation of
the church. The faith of the Old Testament Church respecting it is
illustrated in Chapter 8. Then follows the second leading division of
the treatise, in which the divine honours and obedience due to Christ,
and our obligation to seek conformity to him, are urged at some
length, from Chapter 9 to 15. It is followed in Chapters 16 and 17
with an inquire into the divine wisdom as manifested in the person of
Christ. The hypostatical union is explained, Chapter 18. Two more
Chapters, 19 and 20, close the work, with a dissertation on the
exaltation of Christ, and the mode in which he discharges his
mediatorial functions in heaven.
The treatise was first published in 1679. We are not informed
under what particular circumstances Owen was led to prepare it. There
is internal evidence in the work itself that he laboured under a strong
impression of the peril in which evangelical religion would be
involved, if views of the person of Christ, either positively unsound
or simple vague and defective, obtained currency in the British
churches. His acquaintance with the early history of the church taught
him that against this doctrine the persevering assaults of Satan had
been directed; and, with sagacious foresight, he anticipated the rise
of heresy on this point in England. He speaks of "woeful contests"
respecting it,--increasing rather than abating "unto this very day;"
and intimates his conviction, in language which elucidates his main
design in this work, that the only way by which they could be
terminated was to enthrone Christ anew in the hearts and consciences
of men.
Events ensued which justified these apprehensions of Owen. A
prolonged controversy on the subject of the Trinity arose, which drew
forth the works of Bull (1686), Sherlock (1690), and South (1695). In
1710, Whiston was expelled from Oxford for his Arianism. Dr S Clarke,
in 1712, published Arian views, for which he was summoned before the
Convocation. Among the Presbyterian Dissenters Pierce and Hallet
(1717) became openly committed to Arianism. Dr Isaac Watts who
succeeded (1702) to the charge of the same congregation in London
which had been under the care of Owen, broached the "Indwelling
Schema"; according to which the Father is so united to the man Christ
Jesus, whose human soul preexisted his coming in the flesh, that,
through this indwelling of the Godhead, he became properly God.
The Christology of Owen has always been highly valued, and will
be of use to all ages of the church:--"A work," says the late Dr M'Crie,
"which, together with its continuation, the 'Meditations on the Glory
of Christ,' of all the theological works published by individuals
since the Reformation, next to 'Calvin's Institutions', we would have
deemed it our highest honour to have produced."--Ed.

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