Volume Two continues Owen’s Exercitations on the Epistle to the Hebrews. He writes at length about the connection between the person of Christ and the office of the priesthood, with careful attention to the relationship of the priesthood to both sin and grace. The final exercitation is devoted to the Sabbath. Owen recounts the origin of the Sabbath and the nature of Old Testament Sabbath observance, before contrasting it with the New Testament definition of the Sabbath—the “Lord’s Day.” He concludes with practical observations on observing the Lord’s Day. The second half of Volume Two summarizes and extracts the central themes from Owen’s verse-by-verse in the remaining volumes.
This greatest work of John Owen is a work of gigantic strength as well as gigantic size; and he who has mastered it is very little short…of being an erudite and accomplished theologian.
For solidity, profundity, massiveness and majesty in exhibiting from Scripture God’s ways with sinful mankind there is no one to touch him.
—J. I. Packer
". . . the greatest theologian who has ever written in the English language.
John Owen was born at Stadhampton, Oxfordshire in 1616. He entered Queen's College, Oxford, at the age of twelve and completed his M.A. in classics and theology in 1635 at the age of nineteen. He was ordained shortly thereafter and left the university to be a chaplain to the family of a noble lord. His first parish, in 1637, was at Fordham in Essex, to which he went while England was involved in civil war. It was here that he became convinced that the Congregational way was the scriptural form of church government. In the 1640s he became chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, the new "Protector of England," and traveled with him on his expeditions to Ireland and Scotland. Between 1651 and 1660, he played a prominent part in the religious, political, and academic life of the nation. In 1651 he was appointed dean of Christ Church and in 1652 made Vice-Chancellor of Oxford—positions which allowed him to train ministers for the Cromwellian state church. He lost his position in 1660, however, when the restoration of the monarchy began after the death of Cromwell in 1658. Owen moved to London and led the Puritans through the bitter years of religious and political persecution—experiences which shaped his theological inquiry, pastoral reflection, and preaching. He later declined not only invitations to the ministry in Boston in 1663, but also an offer to become president of Harvard in 1670. He died in August, 1683.