Sin Preface

Overcoming Sin and Temptation by John Owen

That the doctrine of original sin is one of the fundamental truths of
our Christian profession has been always owned1 in the church of God; and
a special part it is of that peculiar2 possession of truth which they enjoy whose
religion toward God is built upon and resolved into divine revelation. As the
world by its wisdom never knew God aright, so the wise men of it were
always utterly ignorant of this inbred evil in themselves and others. With us
the doctrine and conviction of it lie in the very foundation of all wherein we
have to do with God, in reference unto our pleasing of him here, or obtaining
the enjoyment of him hereafter. It is also known what influence it has into
the great truths concerning the person of Christ, his mediation, the fruits and
effects of it, with all the benefits that we are made partakers of thereby.
Without a supposition of it, not any of them can be truly known or savingly
believed. For this cause has it been largely treated of by many holy and
learned men, both of old and of latter days. Some have labored in the discovery
of its nature, some of its guilt and demerit; by whom also the truth
concerning it has been vindicated from the opposition made unto it in the past
and present ages. By most these things have been considered in their full
extent and latitude, with respect unto all men by nature, with the estate and
condition of them who are wholly under the power and guilt of it. How
thereby men are disenabled and incapacitated in themselves to answer the
obedience required either in the law or the gospel, so as to free themselves
from the curse of the one or to make themselves partakers of the blessing of
the other, has been by many also fully evinced.3 Moreover, that there are
remainders of it abiding in believers after their regeneration and conversion
to God, as the Scripture abundantly testifies, so it has been fully taught and
confirmed; as also how the guilt of it is pardoned unto them, and by what
means the power of it is weakened in them. All these things, I say, have been
largely treated on, to the great benefit and edification of the church. In what
we have now in design we therefore take them all for granted, and endeavor
1 admitted, acknowledged, confessed to be true
2 particular, characteristic
3 proven, evidenced, made manifest
only further to carry on the discovery of it in its actings and oppositions to
the law and grace of God in believers. Neither do I intend the discussing of
anything that has been controverted4 about it. What the Scripture plainly
reveals and teaches concerning it—what believers evidently find by experience
in themselves—what they may learn from the examples and acknowledgments
of others, shall be represented in a way suited unto the capacity of the
meanest5 and weakest who is concerned therein. And many things seem to
render the handling of it at this season not unnecessary. The effects and fruits
of it, which we see in the apostasies and backslidings of many, the scandalous
sins and miscarriages of some, and the course and lives of the most, seem to
call for a due consideration of it. Besides, of how great concern a full and clear
acquaintance with the power of this indwelling sin (the matter designed to be
opened) is unto believers, to stir them up to watchfulness and diligence, to
faith and prayer, to call them to repentance, humility, and self-abasement, will
appear in our progress.
These, in general, were the ends aimed at in the ensuing discourse, which,
being at first composed and delivered for the use and benefit of a few, is now
by the providence of God made public. And if the reader receive any advantage
by these weak endeavors, let him know that it is his duty, as to give glory
unto God, so to help them by his prayers who in many temptations and afflictions
are willing to labor in the vineyard of the Lord, unto which work they
are called.
230 INDWELLING SIN
4 made an object of dispute
5 most lowly, insignificant


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