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This discourse by John Owen contains his judgement 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.
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).
Owen clearly understood that the regulative principle of worship (sometimes called the Scriptural law of worship) was foundational to all true Reformation.
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