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with a view to hear Mr. CALAMY; but after waiting a long time, it was known that Mr. CALAMY was prevented from attending service by some extraordinary occasion, upon which many went out of the church. But Mr. OWEN being well seated, and too much indisposed for a farther walk, resolved to abide there, though his cousin would fain have persuaded him to go and hear Mr. JACKSON, then an eminent preacher in the city. At last there came a country minister, a stranger not only to Mr. OWEN, but to the parish; who, having fervently prayed, took for his text these words, "Why "are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?" Matt. viii, 26. The very reading of the words surprised him, upon which he secretly put up a prayer, that God would be pleased by this discourse, to speak to his condition; and his prayer was heard. For in that sermon, though a plain familiar discourse, the minister was directed to answer those very objections which Mr. OWEN had commonly formed against himself: and though he had formerly given the same replies to his own scruples without any effect, yet now the time was come, for God to speak comfort to his soul, to remove all his doubts, and to lay the foundation of that solid peace which he afterwards enjoyed as long as he lived. And it is somewhat remarkable that Mr. OWEN could never come to the knowledge of this minister, though he made the most diligent inquiry. But it was a circumstance of no great moment that he should continue ignorant of the instruments of the blessing, while he had so indubitable and substantial an evidence, that the work was of the Lord. And we are hence furnished with an obvious reflection, that faithful gospel ministers may sometimes be of essential use in the church of Christ, when they themselves are not aware of it, and therefore enjoy neither the honor nor the pleasure of
that usefulness, until they are surprised with the intelligence in glory, when those perhaps they little thought of will appear as their crown and joy.
$10. These being his troubles, and his happy deliverance, is it not worth our while to admire the gracious conduct of divine Wisdom in thus preparing him for that eminent service in the church, wherein he was a burning and shining light to the end of his days. The foundation of his experience was laid deep. His divine Deliverer from so great a peril became infinitely precious to him. Having, like the mariner, escaped the storms and dangers of a long voyage, and safely landed, he could not easily forget the skill and compassion of his pilot. Here was a rich treasure of experience laid up, which furnished him with a peculiar ability to instruct others. He was particularly happy in giving proper advice and comfort to souls under spiritual distress," an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew "unto man his uprightness;" skilful to publish to the fallen race of Adam, the riches of the glory of that mystery contained in the gospel, which he found so precious to his own soul. We may farther observe, that by the uncommon distresses, and humiliations he passed through, his natural vanity and ambition, of which he complained, were happily subdued; whereby he was brought to preach the gospel in all plainness and simplicity, which is the peculiar excellency of an evangelical minister. And having thus enjoyed peace in believing, his bodily health also was restored, which had been impaired by his deep distress; though till then he scarce knew what sickness was, being of a strong constitution.
§11. Soon after this, and during his abode at the Charter-House, he wrote his book entitled, "A Display "of Arminianism." It came out at a very seasonable time, A. D. 1643, when the errors he attacked had
spread themselves pretty much in this nation; so that the book was the more taken notice of, and highly approved by many good judges. And, no doubt, a just observation on the state of religious opinions, with the dangerous tendency of those he opposed in this work, must have been a prevailing motive to undertake it. Through the whole performance, he has acquitted himself as a champion in the cause of truth, cutting in pieces the sinews of Arminianism, and establishing the pure gospel doctrine with great force of argument. There were some considerable persons who entertained a just sense of the value of this work, and did not fail to give real and particular marks of their respect to so learned an author. For, soon after its publication, the committee for ejecting scandalous ministers, paid such a regard to him on account of it, that Mr. WHITE, chairman of the committee, sent a special messenger to present him with the living of Fordham in Essex; which offer he the more readily embraced, as it gave him a favorable opportunity for the stated exercise of his ministerial gifts. He continued at this place about a year and a half; where his preaching was so acceptable, that people resorted to his ministry from other parishes; and visibly great was the success of his labors. Soon after he came to Fordham, he married* and had several children, all which survived. It was now he published his discourse, "Of the duty of pastors and "people," in which he attempts to secure to the sacred calling its ancient dignity, and to assert the just liberties of the people.
* Prima ætatis virilis consors MARIA,
Rebus Dei domus se totum addicendi;
$12. Upon a report that the sequestered incumbent of Fordham was dead, the patron, who had no kindness for Mr. OWEN, presented another to the living; upon which the people at Coggeshall, a market town about five miles from thence, earnestly invited him to be their minister; and the Earl of Warwick, the patron, very readily gave him the living; which favor he thankfully acknowledged, as he had great reason; for here he preached to a congregation more judicious and far more numerous, seldom fewer than two thousand. A very fervent affection was cultivated between minister and people to their mutual satisfaction and joy; and here also he met with great success in his ministerial labors, with the universal approbation of the country round about. Hitherto Mr. OWEN had followed the presbyterian way; but he was now put upon a more diligent inquiry into the nature of church government and discipline, and the result was, that he was. fully convinced the congregational plan was most agreeable to the rule of the New Testament. And were his writings on this subject consulted without partiality, they may give to many a better opinion of this order of the gospel churches than they perhaps entertain, and teach others not to slight, or, at least, not to revile what they do not understand. He formed a church at Coggeshall upon these congregational principles, which continued long a flourishing church, and subsists to this very day.
§13. So eminent a light could not be concealed; his reputation spread through city and country. He was now sent for to preach before the Parliament; which he did April 29, 1646, and several times afterwards; where he distinguished himself by pleading for liberty of conscience, and moderation towards men of different persuasions. Particularly his discourse on Jer. xv,
19, 20, preached the very day after the death of CHARLES I. deserves to be recorded as a perpetual monument of his integrity, modesty, and wisdom. In the year 1648, he published his book entitled "Salus Electorum, Sanguis Jesu," or, "The Death "of Death, in the Death of Christ," which he dedicated to Robert Earl of Warwick. In his preface to the reader he tells us, "That this performance was the re"sult of seven years serious inquiry into the mind of "God about these things, with a perusal of all which "he could attain, that the wit of men in former or latter "days hath published in opposition to the truth." It is a noble undertaking, carried on with all the vigor of argument and learning; and, indeed, of this he himself seemed to be fully conscious, though one of the most humble and modest of all writers; for he scrupled not to declare, that "He did not believe he should live "to see a solid answer given to it." And may we not add, that the event has more than verified the conjecture? Does it not remain to our day without a solid answer?
§14. About this time Colchester was besieged; and Lord FAIRFAX, General of the Parliament forces, quartering at Coggeshall some days, became acquainted there with Mr. OWEN. Soon after, also, he became known to CROMWELL, who, having heard him preach, solicited his friendship. The sermon that CROMWELL was so much pleased with, was that preached before the House of Commons on the 28th of February 1649, being the day of humiliation for the intended expedition to Ireland. Our preacher designed to go to his cure at Coggeshall within two days, but thought himself obliged to make his compliments to General FAIRFAX first. While he was waiting for admission, in comes Lieutenant CROMWELL, who at sight of him