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A Discourse Concerning Liturgies and Their Imposition (and the Regulative Principle of Worship) by John Owen

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Resource Details

Full Title:
A Discourse Concerning Liturgies and Their Imposition (and the Regulative Principle of Worship)
Author:
John Owen
Media:
Digital Download (Adobe PDF)
Searchable:
Yes
PDF Index:
Embedded, Appended
Pages:
62
File Size:
4.64MB
Publisher:
Still Waters Revival Books

Resource Description

First published anonymously in 1662, this edition is from the mid nineteenth-century printing.

This discourse by John Owen contains the judgement of our author in regard to measures which gave rise to the most important events in the ecclesiastical history of England. Owen argues against the liturgy, the imposition of which caused (to the astonishment of the Prelatical hierarchy) nearly two thousand Puritan ministers of the Church of England to resign from their pulpits -- rather than sacrifice a clear conscience concerning the commanded worship of God. These men sacrificed their livelihood, families, and even their own lives rather than offend God by practising the false worship propagated by the idolatrous prelates of their day.

In conjunction with this, Girardeau, in his Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (pp. 24-25) notes, "The words of the great theologian, John Owen 'and the British Isles have produced no greater' are solemn and deserve to be seriously pondered: 'The principle that the church hath power to institute any thing or ceremony belonging to the worship of God, either as to matter or manner, beyond the observance of such circumstances as necessarily attend such ordinances as Christ Himself hath instituted, lies at the bottom of all the horrible superstition and idolatry, of all the confusion, blood, persecution, and wars, that have for so long a season spread themselves over the face of the Christian world.'"

Worship is a life and death matter -- eternal life and eternal death, and the regulative principle of worship (as it is based on the second commandment) is ultimately at the heart of any biblically faithful discussion of the questions Owen deals with here.

Bannerman concurs (in his two volume set The Church of Christ), when he summarizes this book by Owen as "giving the Scriptural argument against the imposition of liturgies as well as of other humanely devised elements in Divine worship, with great clearness and force" (p. 435).

Furthermore, the Westminster Theological Journal (55, 1993, p. 322, 3n) notes, "Owen discusses the true nature of NT worship, especially focusing on the challenge made to it by the Church of England. His discourse regarding the imposition of liturgies is one of the most thorough and forceful arguments for the regulative principle of worship as the only principle which safely guards the Christian conscience from the abuse of church power."

All this shows that Owen clearly understood that the regulative principle of worship (sometimes called the Scriptural law of worship) was foundational to all true Reformation. Anyone who publicly opposes the regulative principle of worship is not only an idolater (who encourages others to violate the second commandment), but a deceiver also -- and in some cases, this may be evidence of an unregenerate heart.

Moreover, Scripture and history clearly demonstrate that Satan always fights with all his might to overthrow this foundational biblical truth concerning worship.

62 pages.


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