Question 7What are the chief things that we ought to aim at in our observation of the institutions of Christ in the gospel?


[1] To sanctify the name of God;

[2] to own and avow our professed subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ;

[3] to build up ourselves in our most holy faith; and,

[4] to testify and confirm our mutual love, as we are believers.

[1] Lev. 10:3; Heb. 12:28,29. [2] Deut. 26:17; Josh. 24:22; 2 Cor. 8:5.  [3] Eph. 4:11-16; Jude 20. [4]1 Cor. 10:16,17.

Explication— That we may profitably and comfortably, unto the glory of God and our own edification, be exercised in the observation of the institutions and worship of God, we are always to consider what are the ends for which God hath appointed them and commanded our attendance unto them, that so our observance of them may be the obedience of faith. For, what end soever God hath appointed them unto, for that end are they useful and effectual, and to no other. If we come to them for any other end, if we use them for any other purpose or with any other design, if we look for any thing in them or by them, but what God hath appointed them to communicate unto us, we dishonour God and deceive our own souls.

This we ought diligently to inquire into, to know not only what God requires of us, but wherefore also he requires it, and what he aims at therein; some of the principal things whereof are enumerated in this answer. And it is well known how horribly many of the institutions of the gospel have been by some (especially the Papists) abused, by a neglect of the ends of God in them, and imposing new ends of their own upon them, unto superstition and idolatry. Grace is ascribed unto the outward observance of them, whereas all grace is of the promise, and the promise in the covenant is given only to the faith of the right observers. The elements in the sacrament of the eucharist are turned into a god, first worshipped and then devoured, with many the like abominations.

Owen, John. The Life and Works of John Owen Vol.15