A Continent of Mud

“John Owen has vigorous thoughts, but the baldest style I know. But better rough speech than an oleaginous style. If rough it may arrest. In Owen were combined the Patristic, the Reformed, and the Puritanic. He was a scholar, and had a fine subactum judicium. He was a good student of texts. But oh, he moves clumsily. He moves like a whale. Robert Hall called his works a ‘continent of mud.’ He utterly lacked the aesthetic, which Hall valued highly; but he is a good specimen of the Patristic Scholastic Puritan; and he is great in spiritual analysis. If you read him on the ‘Mortification of sin,’ you must prepare yourself for the scalpel. He is at the head of a school of divines. Halyburton and Witsius were decided Owenians. They are minor men, and you more easily get at their centre” (Colloquia peripatetica: (deep-sea soundings): being notes of conversations by the late John Duncan L.L.D. with the Rev. William Angus Knight).