The Affections of Man
The great contest of heaven and earth is about the affections of the poor worm which we call man. That the world should contend for them is no wonder; it is the best that it can pretend unto. All things here below are capable of no higher ambition than to be possessed of the affections of men; and, as they lie under the curse, it can do us no greater mischief than by prevailing in this design. But that the holy God should as it were engage in the contest and strive for the affections of man, is an effect of infinite condescension and grace. This he doth expressly: “My son,” saith he, “give me thine heart,” Prov. 23:26. It is our affections he asketh for, and comparatively nothing else. To be sure, he will accept of nothing from us without them; the most fat and costly sacrince will not be accepted if it be without a heart. All the ways and methods of the dispensation of his will by his word, all the designs of his effectual grace, are suited unto and prepared for this end,—namely, to recover the affections of man unto himself. So he expresseth himself concerning his word: Deut. 10:12, “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul?” And as unto the word of his grace, he declares it unto the same purpose: chap. 30:6, “And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.”
Owen, J. (n.d.). The works of John Owen. (W. H. Goold, Ed.) (Vol. 7, p. 395). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.