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Prefatory note.

A great event has occurred since the last two sermons, comparatively cheerful and buoyant in their tone, were preached. Oliver Cromwell is dead. His son Richard is in his place; but cannot fill it. The Parliament has been convened on the 27th of January 1659; and on the 4th of February Dr Owen is called to preach before it. It is most interesting to gather the spirit of the day from the scope and character of this discourse. In the last discourses, complacency in the peace prevailing in the country, and jealousy lest unseemly contention should renew the distraction and turmoil from which the nation has made its escape, are predominant characteristics. In the discourse that follows, it is easy to mark a spirit of anxiety as to the future developments of Providence. One emphatic sentence lays bare the very heart of the nation, heaving and throbbing with painful uncertainty in regard to the issue of public events; — “We have peace now, outward peace; but, alas! we have not quietness: and if any thing may be done that may give us quietness, yet perhaps we may not have assurance.” The preacher, however, has not abated his confidence in God, — insists upon His presence and aid as the true source of hope to the nation, and of preservation from ruin, — shows that, from the multitude of the godly in the land, God’s presence is still with the nation, and rejoices in the belief that they will prove to it” as the ark in the house of Obed-edom, as Joseph in the house of Potiphar.” Whatever reasons might exist for the prevailing anxiety, Owen “encouraged himself in God;” and sought in this discourse to infuse into the minds of his hearers his own unshaken steadfastness of faith.

It appears, from the dedication, that some exception had been taken to certain views which he had expressed in the sermon about civil government. The only passage in it which bears on civil government will be found at the foot of p. 466; in which he mentions, that although he does not think a man may not be lawfully called to magistracy who is not a believer, yet he had “no great expectation from them whom God loves not.” In the dedication he affirms that he had advanced nothing which could “really interfere with any form of civil government, in the world, administered according to righteousness and equity.” — Ed.

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