Owen: To Confine The Abrahamic Covenant To Earthly Things Destroys The Foundations Of Religion

(1.) The life which he now led was a life of faith with respect unto things spiritual and eternal. For he had for the foundation and object hereof, [1.] The promise of the blessed Seed, and the spiritual blessing of all nations in him, as a confirmation of the first fundamental promise to the church, concerning the Seed of the woman that was to break the serpent’s head. And [2] God entered expressly into covenant with him, confirming it with the seal of circumcision, wherein he obliged himself to be his God, his God almighty, or all-sufficient, for his temporal and eternal good. To suppose that Abraham saw nothing in this promise and covenant but only things confined unto this life, nothing of spiritual grace or mercy, nothing of eternal reward or glory, is so contrary to the analogy of faith, to express testimony of Scripture, so destructive of all the foundations of religion, so unworthy of the nature and properties of God, rendering his title of “the father of the faithful,” and his example in believing, so useless, as that it is a wonder men of any tolerable sobriety should indulge to such an imagination.

John Owen, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, ed. W. H. Goold, Works of John Owen (Edinburgh: Johnstone and Hunter, 1854), 24.67.


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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One comment

  1. It’s as though 1689ers and “New Covenant” people (they are different) think that there are two olive trees in Romans 11. The first may only be a big cardboard-backed photo of an olive tree, anchored in the ground, being a picture ONLY of blessings to come.

    Paul, moved by the Spirit of God, tells of but ONE olive tree, the people of God in all the Church, from whom *some* branches are snapped off, temporarily, and into whom some from outside are grafted in.

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