The Life of John Owen
It is matter of just regret and complaint that no elaborate contemporary memoir of this great Puritan was ever written. Twenty years after his death, Cotton Mather, in his "Magnalia Americana Christi," declared "that the church of God was wronged, in that the life of the great John Owen was not written;" and it was only when twenty years more had elapsed that a life of Owen at length appeared, from the pen of Mr Asty, a respectable Independent minister in London; which, though written under the eye of Sir John Hartopp, a particular friend of Owen, and for many years a member of his church, is chargeable with numerous inaccuracies, and so scanty withal, as "not to contain so many pages as Owen has written books." In addition to this, an equally brief anonymous memoir has fallen into our hands, professing to have been written by one who "had the honour to know this eminent person well, and to hear him frequently; though he must confess that he had not then years and experience enough to conceive a suitable idea of the Doctor's great worth." But the student who should wish to search for voluminous contemporary records and early reminiscences of Owen, will look in vain for such full and accurate memorials as Dr Edmund Calamy has given us of Howe; for such an inexhaustible storehouse of incident, and almost redundance of mental portraiture, as Richard Baxter has given us of himself. The sources from which the modern biographer must draw his notices of Owen, besides those already named, are to some extent the representations of adversaries, who could not be silent on so great a name, or withhold reluctant praise; the not infrequent allusions to Owen in the lives of his contemporaries; the statements of general history and biography, - such as are to be found in the page of Neal, Calamy, Middleton, Palmer, and others; and, perhaps the most valuable and interesting of all, the many unconscious touches of autobiography which may be found in his prefaces to his various works. Of all of these Mr Orme has made excellent use in his Life of Owen; which is a remarkable specimen of untiring research, solid judgment and ability in the disposal of his materials, and, making some allowance for honest bias, of biographical fidelity: and from all of these, and especially from Mr Orme himself, we shall gather the details of our biographical sketch and estimate of Owen.