††† Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers







†††††††††††††††††††††††††† By John Owen (1616-1683)














†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††Of the

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††mortification of sin in believers;

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††the necessity, nature, and means of it:

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††with

†††††††††††††††††† †††a resolution of sundry cases of conscience thereunto belonging.


††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††By John Owen, D.D.,

††††††††††††††††††† †††a servant of Jesus Christ in the work of the gospel.


†††††††††††††††††††††††† Table of Contents

Prefatory Note. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .†† 3

Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ††5

Chapter 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ††7

Chapter 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

Chapter 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

Chapter 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Chapter 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Chapter 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Chapter 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

Chapter 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Chapter 9. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

Chapter 10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Chapter 11. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68

Chapter 12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

Chapter 13. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

Chapter 14. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

Indexes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Prefatory note.


†† It sheds interesting light on the character and resources of Owen, if

†† the circumstances in which the following treatise was composed are

†† borne in mind. It was published in 1656, and its author was at the time

†† Dean of Christ Church and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford,

†† restoring it, by a course of mingled kindliness and decision, from the

†† ruinous condition into which it had lapsed during the civil wars, and

†† raising it to such prosperity as to extort the praises of Clarendon. He

†† was preaching, each alternate Sabbath, those sermons which lingered in

†† the memory and strengthened the piety of Philip Henry. He was

†† frequently summoned to London on momentous consultations respecting

†† public affairs, and to preach before the Parliament. As if this amount

†† of toil were not sufficient to occupy him, -- toil so great that, in

†† his noble address on resigning the vice-chancellorship of the

†† University, he describes himself as having been "sipius morti proximus"

†† -- the Council of State had imposed on him the task of replying to

†† Biddle the Socinian; and he fulfilled it by the production of his

†† elaborate and masterly work, "Vindicia Evangelica," -- a bulwark of the

†† faith, so solid in its foundation, and so massy in its proportions,

†† that the entire phalanx of Socinian authorship has shrunk from the

attempt to assail it. In the next year, and but a few months after this

†† great work had appeared, as if his secular labours in the management of

†† the University, his own heavy share in the burden of public affairs,

†† and the rough duties of controversy, could not arrest the progress of

†† grace in his own soul, or deaden his zeal for the promotion of vital

†† godliness around him, he gave to the world this treatise, "On the

†† Mortification of Sin in Believers."


†† We learn from the preface, that it embodies what he had preached with

†† such acceptance that "sundry persons, in whose hearts are the ways of

†† God," pressed him to publish it. He had a desire also to correct

†† certain "dangerous mistakes" into which some preachers or writers of

†† that day had fallen, who recommended and enforced a process of

†† mortifying sin which was not conducted on evangelical principles, and

†† only tended to ensnare the conscience, and foster self-righteousness

†† and superstition. The directions which our author gives in order to

†† subdue the power of internal corruption are at the farthest remove from

†† all the arts and practices of a hollow asceticism. There is no trace in

†† this work of the morbid and dreamy tone of kindred treatises, which

†† have emerged from a life of cloistered seclusion. Our author's

†† knowledge of human nature, in its real elements, and as it appears in

†† the wide arena of life, is only surpassed by his acquaintance with the

†† truths of the Word, and their bearing on the experience and workings of

†† every heart. The reader is made to feel, above all things, that the

†† only cross on which he can nail his every lust to its utter

†† destruction, is, not the devices of a self-inflicted maceration, but

†† the tree on which Christ hung, made a curse for us.


†† After an analysis and explanation of the passage in Scripture (Rom.

†† viii. 13) on which the treatise is based, some general principles are

†† deduced and expounded. What follows is designed -- first, to show

†† wherein the real mortification of sin consists; secondly, to assign

†† general directions, without which no sin can be spiritually mortified;

†† and, lastly, to unfold at length and in detail specific and particular

†† directions for this important spiritual exercise.


†† The treatise has been so much a favourite, that it passed through

†† several editions in the author's lifetime. It is given here as

†† corrected and enlarged in the second edition (1658), though by some

†† oversight modern reprints of it have been always taken from the first.

†† The estimate of its value indicated by the number of the early

†† editions, is confirmed by the circumstance, that it has since obtained

†† the especial recommendation of Mr. Wilberforce. (See his "Practical

†† View," etc. p. 392.) -- Ed.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Preface.


†† Christian Reader,


†† I shall in a few words acquaint you with the reasons that obtained my

†† consent to the publishing of the ensuing discourse. The consideration

†† of the present state and condition of the generality of professors, the

†† visible evidences of the frame of their hearts and spirits, manifesting

†† a great disability of dealing with the temptations wherewith, from the

†† peace they have in the world and the divisions that they have among

†† themselves, they are encompassed, holds the chief place amongst them.

†† This I am assured is of so great importance, that if hereby I only

†† occasion others to press more effectually on the consciences of men the

†† work of considering their ways, and to give more clear direction for

†† the compassing of the end proposed, I shall well esteem of my lot in

†† this undertaking. This was seconded by an observation of some men's

†† dangerous mistakes, who of late days have taken upon them to give

†† directions for the mortification of sin, who, being unacquainted with

†† the mystery of the gospel and the efficacy of the death of Christ, have

†† anew imposed the yoke of a self-wrought-out mortification on the necks

†† of their disciples, which neither they nor their forefathers were ever

†† able to bear. A mortification they cry up and press, suitable to that

†† of the gospel neither in respect of nature, subject, causes, means, nor

†† effects; which constantly produces the deplorable issues of

†† superstition, self-righteousness, and anxiety of conscience in them who

†† take up the burden which is so bound for them.


†† What is here proposed in weakness, I humbly hope will answer the spirit

†† and letter of the gospel, with the experiences of them who know what it

†† is to walk with God, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace.

†† So that if not this, yet certainly something of this kind, is very

†† necessary at this season for the promotion and furtherance of this work

†† of gospel mortification in the hearts of believers, and their direction

†† in paths safe, and wherein they may find rest to their souls. Something

†† I have to add as to what in particular relates unto myself. Having

†† preached on this subject unto some comfortable success, through the

†† grace of Him that administers seed to the sower, I was pressed by

†† sundry persons, in whose hearts are the ways of God, thus to publish

†† what I had delivered, with such additions and alterations as I should

†† judge necessary. Under the inducement of their desires, I called to

†† remembrance the debt, wherein I have now for some years stood engaged

†† unto sundry noble and woryour Christian friends, as to a treatise of

†† Communion with God, some while since promised to them; [1] and thereon

†† apprehended, that if I could not hereby compound for the greater debt,

†† yet I might possibly tender them this discourse of variance with

†† themselves, as interest for their forbearance of that of peace and

†† communion with God. Besides, I considered that I had been

†† providentially engaged in the public debate of sundry controversies in

†† religion, which might seem to claim something in another kind of more

†† general use, as a fruit of choice, not necessity. On these and the like

†† accounts is this short discourse brought forth to public view, and now

†† presented unto you. I hope I may own in sincerity, that my heart's

†† desire unto God, and the chief design of my life in the station wherein

†† the good providence of God has placed me, are, that mortification and

†† universal holiness may be promoted in my own and in the hearts and ways

†† of others, to the glory of God; that so the gospel of our Lord and

†† Saviour Jesus Christ may be adorned in all things: for the compassing

†† of which end, if this little discourse (of the publishing whereof this

†† is the sum of the account I shall give) may in any thing be useful to

†† the least of the saints, it will be looked on as a return of the weak

†† prayers wherewith it is attended by its unworyour author,


†† John Owen.

†††† __________________________________________________________________


†† [1] Since the first edition of this treatise; that other also is

†† published.


†††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††Chapter I.

†† The foundation of the whole ensuing discourse laid in Rom. viii. 13 --

†† The words of the apostle opened -- The certain connection between true

†† mortification and salvation -- Mortification the work of believers --

†† The Spirit the principal efficient cause of it -- What meant by "the

†† body" in the words of the apostle -- What by "the deeds of the body" --

†† Life, in what sense promised to this duty.


†† That what I have of direction to contribute to the carrying on of the

†† work of mortification in believers may receive order and perspicuity, I

†† shall lay the foundation of it in those words of the apostle, Rom.

†† viii. 13, "If you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body you

†† shall live;" and reduce the whole to an improvement of the great

†† evangelical truth and mystery contained in them.


†† The apostle having made a recapitulation of his doctrine of

†† justification by faith, and the blessed estate and condition of them

†† who are made by grace partakers thereof, verses 1-3 of this chapter,

†† proceeds to improve it to the holiness and consolation of believers.


†† Among his arguments and motives unto holiness, the verse mentioned

†† contains one from the contrary events and effects of holiness and

†† sin: "If you live after the flesh, you shall die." What it is to "live

†† after the flesh," and what it is to "die," that being not my present

†† aim and business, I shall no otherwise explain than as they will fall

†† in with the sense of the latter words of the verse, as before proposed.


†† In the words peculiarly designed for the foundation of the ensuing

†† discourse, there is, --


†† First, A duty prescribed: "Mortify the deeds of the body."


†† Secondly, The persons are denoted to whom it is prescribed: "You," --

†† "if you mortify."


†† Thirdly, There is in them a promise annexed to that duty: "You shall

†† live."


†† Fourthly, The cause or means of the performance of this duty, -- the

†† Spirit: "If you through the Spirit."


†† Fifthly, The conditionality of the whole proposition, wherein duty,

†† means, and promise are contained: "If you," etc.


†† 1. The first thing occurring in the words as they lie in the entire

†† proposition is the conditional note, Ei de, "But if." Conditionals in

†† such propositions may denote two things:--


†† (1.) The uncertainty of the event or thing promised, in respect of them

†† to whom the duty is prescribed. And this takes place where the

†† condition is absolutely necessary unto the issue, and depends not

†† itself on any determinate cause known to him to whom it is prescribed.

†† So we say, "If we live, we will do such a thing." This cannot be the

†† intendment of the conditional expression in this place. Of the persons

†† to whom these words are spoken, it is said, verse 1 of the same

†† chapter, "There is no condemnation to them."


†† (2.) The certainty of the coherence and connection that is between the

†† things spoken of; as we say to a sick man, "If you will take such a

†† potion, or use such a remedy, you will be well." The thing we solely

†† intend to express is the certainty of the connection that is between

†† the potion or remedy and health. And this is the use of it here. The

†† certain connection that is between the mortifying of the deeds of the

†† body and living is intimated in this conditional particle.


†† Now, the connection and coherence of things being manifold, as of cause

†† and effect, of way and means and the end, this between mortification

†† and life is not of cause and effect properly and strictly, -- for

†† "eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ," Rom. vi. 23, --

†† but of means and end. God has appointed this means for the attaining

†† that end, which he has freely promised. Means, though necessary, have

†† a fair subordination to an end of free promise. A gift, and procuring

†† cause in him to whom it is given, are inconsistent. The intendment,

†† then, of this proposition as conditional is, that there is a certain

†† infallible connection and coherence between true mortification and

†† eternal life: if you use this means, you shall obtain that end; if you

†† do mortify, you shall live. And herein lies the main motive unto and

†† enforcement of the duty prescribed.


†† 2. The next thing we meet withal in the words is the persons to whom

†† this duty is prescribed, and that is expressed in the word "You," in the

†† original included in the verb, thanatoute "if you mortify;" -- that is,

†† you believers; you to whom "there is no condemnation," verse 1; you that

†† are "not in the flesh, but in the Spirit," verse 9; who are "quickened

†† by the Spirit of Christ," verses 10, 11; to you is this duty

†† prescribed. The pressing of this duty immediately on any other is a

†† notable fruit of that superstition and self-righteousness that the

†† world is full of, -- the great work and design of devout men ignorant

†† of the gospel, Rom. x. 3, 4; John xv. 5. Now, this description of the

†† persons, in conjunction with the prescription of the duty, is the main

†† foundation of the ensuing discourse, as it lies in this thesis or

†† proposition:--


†† The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning

†† power of sin, ought you to make it their business all their days to

†† mortify the indwelling power of sin.


†† 3. The principal efficient cause of the performance of this duty is the

Spirit: Ei de Pneumati, -- " If by the Spirit." The Spirit here is the

†† Spirit mentioned verse 11, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God,

†† that "dwells in us," verse 9, that "quickens us," verse 11; "the Holy

†† Ghost," verse 14; [2] the "Spirit of adoption," verse 15; the Spirit

†† "that makes intercession for us," verse 26. All other ways of

†† mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must be done by

†† the Spirit. Men, as the apostle intimates, Rom. ix. 30-32, may attempt

†† this work on other principles, by means and advantages administered on

†† other accounts, as they always have done, and do: but, saith he, "This

†† is the work of the Spirit; by him alone is it to be wrought, and by no

†† other power is it to be brought about." Mortification from a

†† self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a

†† self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in

†† the world. And this is a second principle of my ensuing discourse.


†† 4. The duty itself, "Mortify the deeds of the body," is nextly to be

†† remarked.


†† Three things are here to be inquired into:-- (1.) What is meant by the

†† body; (2.) What by the deeds of the body; (3.) What by mortifying of

†† them.


†† (1.) The body in the close of the verse is the same with the flesh in

†† the beginning: "If you live after the flesh you shall die; but if you ...

†† mortify the deeds of the body," -- that is, of the flesh. It is that

†† which the apostle has all along discoursed of under the name of the

†† flesh; which is evident from the prosecution of the antithesis between

†† the Spirit and the flesh, before and after. The body, then, here is

†† taken for that corruption and depravity of our natures whereof the

†† body, in a great part, is the seat and instrument, the very members of

†† the body being made servants unto unrighteousness thereby, Rom. vi. 19.

†† It is indwelling sin, the corrupted flesh or lust, that is intended.

†† Many reasons might be given of this metonymical expression, that I

†† shall not now insist on. The "body" here is the same with palaios

†† anthropos, and soma tes hamartias, the "old man," and the "body of

†† sin," Rom. vi. 6; or it may synecdochically express the whole person

†† considered as corrupted, and the seat of lusts and distempered

†† affections.


†† (2.) The deeds of the body. The word is praxeis, which, indeed,

†† denotes the outward actions chiefly, "the works of the flesh," as they

†† are called, ta erga tes sarkos, Gal. v. 19; which are there said to be

†† "manifest," and are enumerated. Now, though the outward deeds are here

†† only expressed, you the inward and next causes are chiefly intended;

†† the "axe is to be laid to the root of the tree," -- the deeds of the

†† flesh are to be mortified in their causes, from whence they spring. The

†† apostle calls them deeds, as that which every lust tends unto; though

†† it do but conceive and prove abortive, it aims to bring forth a perfect

†† sin.


†† Having, both in the seventh and the beginning of this chapter, treated

†† of indwelling lust and sin as the fountain and principle of all sinful

†† actions, he here mentions its destruction under the name of the effects

†† which it does produce. Praxeis tou somatos are, as much as phronema tes

†† sarkos, Rom. viii. 6, the "wisdom of the flesh," by a metonymy of the

†† same nature with the former; or as the pathemata and epithumiai, the

†† "passions and lusts of the flesh," Gal. v. 24, whence the deeds and

†† fruits of it do arise; and in this sense is the body used, Rom. viii.

†† 10: "The body is dead because of sin."


†† (3.) To mortify. Ei thanatoute, -- "If you put to death;" a metaphorical

†† expression, taken from the putting of any living thing to death. To

†† kill a man, or any other living thing, is to take away the principle of

†† all his strength, vigour, and power, so that he cannot act or exert, or

†† put forth any proper actings of his own; so it is in this case.

†† Indwelling sin is compared to a person, a living person, called "the

†† old man," with his faculties, and properties, his wisdom, craft,

†† subtlety, strength; this, says the apostle, must be killed, put to

†† death, mortified, -- that is, have its power, life, vigour, and

†† strength, to produce its effects, taken away by the Spirit. It is,

†† indeed, meritoriously, and by way of example, utterly mortified and

†† slain by the cross of Christ; and the "old man" is thence said to be

†† "crucified with Christ," Rom. vi. 6, and ourselves to be "dead" with

†† him, verse 8, and really initially in regeneration, Rom. vi. 3-5, when

†† a principle contrary to it, and destructive of it, Gal. v. 17, is

†† planted in our hearts; but the whole work is by degrees to be carried

†† on towards perfection all our days. Of this more in the process of our

†† discourse. The intendment of the apostle in this prescription of the

†† duty mentioned is, -- that the mortification of indwelling sin

†† remaining in our mortal bodies, that it may not have life and power to

†† bring forth the works or deeds of the flesh is the constant duty of

†† believers.


†† 5. The promise unto this duty is life: "You shall live." The life

†† promised is opposed to the death threatened in the clause foregoing,

†† "If you live after the flesh, you shall die;" which the same apostle

†† expresses, "You shall of the flesh reap corruption," Gal. vi. 8, or

†† destruction from God. Now, perhaps the word may not only intend eternal

†† life, but also the spiritual life in Christ, which here we have; not as

†† to the essence and being of it, which is already enjoyed by believers,

†† but as to the joy, comfort, and vigour of it: as the apostle says in

†† another case, "Now I live, if you stand fast," 1 Thess. iii. 8; -- "Now

†† my life will do me good; I shall have joy and comfort with my life;" --

†† "You shall live, lead a good, vigorous, comfortable, spiritual life

†† whilst you are here, and obtain eternal life hereafter."


†† Supposing what was said before of the connection between mortification

†† and eternal life, as of means and end, I shall add only, as a second

†† motive to the duty prescribed, that, --


†† The vigour, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the

†† mortification of the deeds of the flesh.

†††† __________________________________________________________________


†† [2] There seems to be an oversight here, as the expression "Holy Ghost"

†† does not occur in the verse cited. -- Ed.


††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Chapter II.


†† The principal assertion concerning the necessity of mortification

†† proposed to confirmation -- Mortification the duty of the best

†† believers, Col. iii. 5; 1 Cor. ix. 27 -- Indwelling sin always abides;

†† no perfection in this life, Phil. iii. 12; 1 Cor. xiii. 12; 2 Pet. iii.

†† 18; Gal. v. 17, etc. -- The activity of abiding sin in believers, Rom.

†† vii. 23; James iv. 5; Heb. xii. 1 -- Its fruitfullness and tendency --

†† Every lust aims at the height in its kind -- The Spirit and new nature

†† given to contend against indwelling sin, Gal. v. 17; 2 Pet. i. 4, 5;

†† Rom. vii. 23 -- The fearful issue of the neglect of mortification, Rev.

†† iii. 2; Heb. iii. 13 -- The first general principle of the whole

†† discourse hence confirmed -- Want of this duty lamented.


†† Having laid this foundation, a brief confirmation of the fore-mentioned

†† principal deductions will lead me to what I chiefly intend, --


†† I. That the choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the

†† condemning power of sin, ought you to make it their business all their

†† days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.


So the apostle, Col. iii. 5, "Mortify therefore your members which are

†† upon the earth." Whom speaks he to? Such as were "risen with Christ,"

†† verse 1; such as were "dead" with him, verse 3; such as whose life

†† Christ was, and who should "appear with him in glory," verse 4. Do you

†† mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you

†† live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be

†† killing you. Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being

†† quickened with him, will not excuse you from this work. And our Saviour

†† tells us how his Father deals with every branch in him that bears

†† fruit, every true and living branch. "He purges it, that it may bring

†† forth more fruit," John xv. 2. He prunes it, and that not for a day or

†† two, but whilst it is a branch in this world. And the apostle tells you

†† what was his practice, 1 Cor. ix. 27, "I keep under my body, and bring

†† it into subjection." "I do it," saith he, "daily; it is the work of my

†† life: I omit it not; this is my business." And if this were the work

†† and business of Paul, who was so incomparably exalted in grace,

†† revelations, enjoyments, privileges, consolations, above the ordinary

†† measure of believers, where may we possibly bottom an exemption from

†† this work and duty whilst we are in this world? Some brief account of

†† the reasons hereof may be given:--


†† 1. Indwelling sin always abides whilst we are in this world; therefore

†† it is always to be mortified. The vain, foolish, and ignorant disputes

†† of men about perfect keeping the commands of God, of perfection in this

†† life, of being wholly and perfectly dead to sin, I meddle not now with.

†† It is more than probable that the men of those abominations never knew

†† what belonged to the keeping of any one of God's commands, and are so

†† much below perfection of degrees, that they never attained to a

†† perfection of parts in obedience or universal obedience in sincerity.

†† And, therefore, many in our days who have talked of perfection have

†† been wiser, and have affirmed it to consist in knowing no difference

†† between good and evil. Not that they are perfect in the things we call

†† good, but that all is alike to them, and the height of wickedness is

†† their perfection. Others who have found out a new way to it, by denying

†† original, indwelling sin, and attempering the spirituality of the law

†† of God unto men's carnal hearts, as they have sufficiently discovered

†† themselves to be ignorant of the life of Christ and the power of it in

†† believers, so they have invented a new righteousness that the gospel

†† knows not of, being vainly puffed up by their fleshly minds. For us,

†† who dare not be wise above what is written, nor boast by other men's

†† lives of what God has not done for us, we say that indwelling sin

†† lives in us, in some measure and degree, whilst we are in this world.

†† We dare not speak as "though we had already attained, or were already

†† perfect," Phil. iii. 12. Our "inward man is to be renewed day by day"

†† whilst here we live, 2 Cor. iv. 16; and according to the renovations of

†† the new are the breaches and decays of the old. Whilst we are here we

†† "know but in part," 1 Cor. xiii. 12, having a remaining darkness to be

†† gradually removed by our "growth in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus

†† Christ," 2 Pet. iii. 18; and "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, so

†† that we cannot do the things that we would," Gal. v. 17: and are

†† therefore defective in our obedience as well as in our light, 1 John i.

†† 8. We have a "body of death," Rom. vii. 24; from whence we are not

†† delivered but by the death of our bodies, Phil. iii. 21. Now, it being

†† our duty to mortify, to be killing of sin whilst it is in us, we must

†† be at work. He that is appointed to kill an enemy, if he leave striking

†† before the other ceases living, does but half his work, Gal. vi. 9;

†† Heb. xii. 1; 2 Cor. vii. 1.


†† 2. Sin does not only still abide in us, but is still acting, still

†† labouring to bring forth the deeds of the flesh. When sin lets us alone

†† we may let sin alone; but as sin is never less quiet than when it seems

†† to be most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep when they

†† are still, so ought our contrivances against it to be vigorous at all

†† times and in all conditions, even where there is least suspicion. Sin

†† does not only abide in us, but "the law of the members is still

†† rebelling against the law of the mind," Rom. vii. 23; and "the spirit

†† that dwells in us lusts to envy," James iv. 5. It is always in

†† continual work; "the flesh lusts against the Spirit," Gal. v. 17;

†† lust is still tempting and conceiving sin, James i. 14; in every moral

†† action it is always either inclining to evil, or hindering from that

†† which is good, or disframing the spirit from communion with God. It

†† inclines to evil. "The evil which I would not, that I do," saith the

†† apostle, Rom. vii. 19. Whence is that? Why, "Because in me (that is, in

†† my flesh) dwells no good thing." And it hinders from good: "The good

†† that I would do, that I do not," verse 19; -- "Upon the same account,

†† either I do it not, or not as I should; all my holy things being

†† defiled by this sin." "The flesh lusts against the Spirit, so that you

†† cannot do the things that you would," Gal. v. 17. And it unframes our

†† spirit, and thence is called "The sin that so easily besets us," Heb.

†† xii. 1; on which account are those grievous complaints that the apostle

†† makes of it, Rom. vii. So that sin is always acting, always conceiving,

†† always seducing and tempting. Who can say that he had ever any thing to

†† do with God or for God, that indwelling sin had not a hand in the

†† corrupting of what he did? And this trade will it drive more or less

†† all our days. If, then, sin will be always acting, if we be not always

†† mortifying, we are lost creatures. He that stands still and suffers his

†† enemies to double blows upon him without resistance, will undoubtedly

†† be conquered in the issue. If sin be subtle, watchful, strong, and

†† always at work in the business of killing our souls, and we be

†† slothful, negligent, foolish, in proceeding to the ruin thereof, can we

†† expect a comfortable event? There is not a day but sin foils or is

†† foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so whilst we live

†† in this world.


†† I shall discharge him from this duty who can bring sin to a

†† composition, to a cessation of arms in this warfare; if it will spare

†† him any one day, in any one duty (provided he be a person that is

†† acquainted with the spirituality of obedience and the subtlety of sin),

†† let him say to his soul, as to this duty, "Soul, take your rest." The

†† saints, whose souls breathe after deliverance from its perplexing

†† rebellion, know there is no safety against it but in a constant

†† warfare.


†† 3. Sin will not only be striving, acting, rebelling, troubling,

†† disquieting, but if let alone, if not continually mortified, it will

†† bring forth great, cursed, scandalous, soul-destroying sins. The

†† apostle tells us what the works and fruits of it are, Gal. v. 19-21,

†† "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are, adultery, fornication,

†† uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance,

†† emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders,

†† drunkenness, revellings, and such like." You know what it did in David

†† and sundry others. Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises

†† up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to

†† the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be

†† adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every

†† thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head. Men

†† may come to that, that sin may not be heard speaking a scandalous word

†† in their hearts, -- that is, provoking to any great sin with scandal in

†† its mouth; but your every rise of lust, might it have its course, would

†† come to the height of villany: it is like the grave, that is never

†† satisfied. And herein lies no small share of the deceitfullness of sin,

†† by which it prevails to the hardening of men, and so to their ruin,

†† Heb. iii. 13, -- it is modest, as it were, in its first motions and

†† proposals, but having once got footing in the heart by them, it

†† constantly makes good its ground, and presses on to some farther

†† degrees in the same kind. This new acting and pressing forward makes

†† the soul take little notice of what an entrance to a falling off from

†† God is already made; it thinks all is indifferent well if there be no

†† farther progress; and so far as the soul is made insensible of any sin,

†† -- that is, as to such a sense as the gospel requires, -- so far it is

†† hardened: but sin is still pressing forward, and that because it has

†† no bounds but utter relinquishment of God and opposition to him; that

†† it proceeds towards its height by degrees, making good the ground it

†† has got by hardness, is not from its nature, but its deceitfullness.

†† Now nothing can prevent this but mortification; that withers the root

†† and strikes at the head of sin every hour, so that whatever it aims at

†† it is crossed in. There is not the best saint in the world but, if he

†† should give over this duty, would fall into as many cursed sins as ever

†† any did of his kind.


†† 4. This is one main reason why the Spirit and the new nature is given

†† unto us, -- that we may have a principle within whereby to oppose sin

†† and lust. "The flesh lusts against the Spirit." Well! and what then?

†† Why, "The Spirit also lusts against the flesh," Gal. v. 17. There is

†† a propensity in the Spirit, or spiritual new nature, to be acting

†† against the flesh, as well as in the flesh to be acting against the

†† Spirit: so 2 Pet. i. 4, 5. It is our participation of the divine nature

†† that gives us an escape from the pollutions that are in the world

†† through lust; and, Rom. vii. 23, there is a law of the mind, as well as

†† a law of the members. Now this is, first, the most unjust and

†† unreasonable thing in the world, when two combatants are engaged, to

†† bind one and keep him up from doing his utmost, and to leave the other

†† at liberty to wound him at his pleasure; and, secondly, the foolishest

†† thing in the world to bind him who fights for our eternal condition,

†† [salvation?] and to let him alone who seeks and violently attempts our

†† everlasting ruin. The contest is for our lives and souls. Not to be

†† daily employing the Spirit and new nature for the mortifying of sin, is

†† to neglect that excellent succour which God has given us against our

†† greatest enemy. If we neglect to make use of what we have received, God

†† may justly hold his hand from giving us more. His graces, as well as

†† his gifts, are bestowed on us to use, exercise, and trade with. Not to

†† be daily mortifying sin, is to sin against the goodness, kindness,

†† wisdom, grace, and love of God, who has furnished us with a principle

†† of doing it.


†† 5. Negligence in this duty casts the soul into a perfect contrary

†† condition to that which the apostle affirms was his, 2 Cor. iv. 16,

†† "Though our outward man perish, your the inward man is renewed day by

†† day." In these the inward man perishes, and the outward man is renewed

†† day by day. Sin is as the house of David, and grace as the house of

†† Saul. Exercise and success are the two main cherishers of grace in the

†† heart; when it is suffered to lie still, it withers and decays: the

†† things of it are ready to die, Rev. iii. 2; and sin gets ground towards

†† the hardening of the heart, Heb. iii. 13. This is that which I intend:

†† by the omission of this duty grace withers, lust flourishes, and the

†† frame of the heart grows worse and worse; and the Lord knows what

†† desperate and fearful issues it has had with many. Where sin, through

†† the neglect of mortification, gets a considerable victory, it breaks

†† the bones of the soul, Ps. xxxi. 10, li. 8, and makes a man weak, sick,

†† and ready to die, Ps. xxxviii. 3-5, so that he cannot look up, Ps. xl.

†† 12, Isa. xxxiii. 24; and when poor creatures will take blow after blow,

†† wound after wound, foil after foil, and never rouse up themselves to a

†† vigorous opposition, can they expect anything but to be hardened

†† through the deceitfullness of sin, and that their souls should bleed to

†† death? 2 John 8. Indeed, it is a sad thing to consider the fearful

†† issues of this neglect, which lie under our eyes every day. See we not

†† those, whom we knew humble, melting, broken-hearted Christians, tender

†† and fearful to offend, zealous for God and all his ways, his Sabbaths

†† and ordinances, grown, through a neglect of watching unto this duty,

†† earthly, carnal, cold, wrathful, complying with the men of the world

†† and things of the world, to the scandal of religion and the fearful

†† temptation of them that know them? The truth is, what between placing

†† mortification in a rigid, stubborn frame of spirit, which is for the

†† most part earthly, legal, censorious, partial, consistent with wrath,

†† envy, malice, pride, on the one hand, and pretences of liberty, grace,

†† and I know not what, on the other, true evangelical mortification is

†† almost lost amongst us: of which afterward.


†† 6. It is our duty to be "perfecting holiness in the fear of God," 2

†† Cor. vii. 1; to be "growing in grace" every day, 1 Pet. ii. 2, 2 Pet.

†† iii. 18; to be "renewing our inward man day by day," 2 Cor. iv. 16.

†† Now, this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin. Sin sets

†† its strength against every act of holiness, and against every degree we

†† grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who

†† walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who does not kill sin in

†† this way takes no steps towards his journey's end. He who finds not

†† opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its

†† mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it.


†† This, then, is the first general principle of our ensuing discourse:

†† Notwithstanding the meritorious mortification, if I may so speak, of

†† all and every sin in the cross of Christ; notwithstanding the real

†† foundation of universal mortification laid in our first conversion, by

†† conviction of sin, humiliation for sin, and the implantation of a new

†† principle opposite to it and destructive of it; -- your sin does so

†† remain, so act and work in the best of believers, whilst they live in

†† this world, that the constant daily mortification of it is all their

†† days incumbent on them. Before I proceed to the consideration of the

†† next principle, I cannot but by the way complain of many professors of

†† these days, who, instead of bringing forth such great and evident

†† fruits of mortification as are expected, scarce bear any leaves of it.

†† There is, indeed, a broad light fallen upon the men of this generation,

†† and together therewith many spiritual gifts communicated, which, with

†† some other considerations, have wonderfully enlarged the bounds of

†† professors and profession; both they and it are exceedingly multiplied

and increased. Hence there is a noise of religion and religious duties

†† in every corner, preaching in abundance, -- and that not in an empty,

†† light, trivial, and vain manner, as formerly, but to a good proportion

†† of a spiritual gift, -- so that if you will measure the number of

†† believers by light, gifts, and profession, the church may have cause to

†† say, "Who has born me all these?" But now if you will take the measure

†† of them by this great discriminating grace of Christians, perhaps you

will find their number not so multiplied. Where almost is that

†† professor who owes his conversion to these days of light, and so talks

†† and professes at such a rate of spirituality as few in former days

†† were, in any measure, acquainted with (I will not judge them, but

†† perhaps boasting what the Lord has done in them), that does not give

†† evidence of a miserably unmortified heart? If vain spending of time,

†† idleness, unprofitableness in men's places, envy, strife, variance,

†† emulations, wrath, pride, worldliness, selfishness, 1 Cor. i., be

†† badges of Christians, we have them on us and amongst us in abundance.

†† And if it be so with them who have much light, and which, we hope, is

†† saving, what shall we say of some who would be accounted religious and

†† yot despise gospel light, and for the duty we have in hand, know no

†† more of it but what consists in men's denying themselves sometimes in

†† outward enjoyments, which is one of the outmost branches of it, which

†† yet they will seldom practise? The good Lord send out a spirit of

†† mortification to cure our distempers, or we are in a sad condition!


†† There are two evils which certainly attend every unmortified professor;

†† -- the first, in himself; the other, in respect of others:--


1. In himself. Let him pretend what he will, he has slight thoughts of

†† sin; at least, of sins of daily infirmity. The root of an unmortified

†† course is the digestion of sin without bitterness in the heart. When a

†† man has confirmed his imagination to such an apprehension of grace and

†† mercy as to be able, without bitterness, to swallow and digest daily

†† sins, that man is at the very brink of turning the grace of God into

†† lasciviousness, and being hardened by the deceitfullness of sin. Neither

†† is there a greater evidence of a false and rotten heart in the world

†† than to drive such a trade. To use the blood of Christ, which is given

†† to cleanse us, 1 John i. 7, Tit. ii. 14; the exaltation of Christ,

†† which is to give us repentance, Acts v. 31; the doctrine of grace,

†† which teaches us to deny all ungodliness, Tit. ii. 11, 12, to

†† countenance sin, is a rebellion that in the issue will break the bones.

†† At this door have gone out from us most of the professors that have

†† apostatized in the days wherein we live. For a while they were most of

†† them under convictions; these kept them unto duties, and brought them

†† to profession; so they "escaped the pollutions that are in the world,

†† through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. ii. 20: but

†† having got an acquaintance with the doctrine of the gospel, and being

†† weary of duty, for which they had no principle, they began to

†† countenance themselves in manifold neglects from the doctrine of grace.

†† Now, when once this evil had laid hold of them, they speedily tumbled

†† into perdition.


†† 2. To others. It has an evil influence on them on a twofold account:--


†† (1.) It hardens them, by begetting in them a persuasion that they are

†† in as good condition as the best professors. Whatever they see in them

†† is so stained for want of this mortification that it is of no value

†† with them. They have a zeal for religion; but it is accompanied with

†† want of forbearance and universal righteousness. They deny prodigality,

but with worldliness; they separate from the world, but live wholly to

†† themselves, taking no care to exercise loving-kindness in the earth; or

†† they talk spiritually, and live vainly; mention communion with God, and

†† are every way conformed to the world; boasting of forgiveness of sin,

†† and never forgiving others. And with such considerations do poor

†† creatures harden their hearts in their unregeneracy.


†† (2.) They deceive them, in making them believe that if they can come up

†† to their condition it shall be well with them; and so it grows an easy

†† thing to have the great temptation of repute in religion to wrestle

†† withal, when they may go far beyond them as to what appears in them,

†† and yet come short of eternal life. But of these things and all the

†† evils of unmortified walking, afterward.


††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Chapter III.


†† The second general principle of the means of mortification proposed to

†† confirmation -- The Spirit the only author of this work -- Vanity of

†† popish mortification discovered -- Many means of it used by them not

†† appointed of God -- Those appointed by him abused -- The mistakes of

†† others in this business -- The Spirit is promised believers for this

†† work, Ezek. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26 -- All that we receive from Christ is by

†† the Spirit -- How the Spirit mortifies sin -- Gal. v. 19-23 -- The

†† several ways of his operation to this end proposed -- How his work and

†† our duty.


†† The next principle relates to the great sovereign cause of the

†† mortification treated of; which, in the words laid for the foundation

†† of this discourse, is said to be the Spirit, -- that is, the Holy

†† Ghost, as was evinced.


†† II. He only is sufficient for this work; all ways and means without him

†† are as a thing of nought; and he is the great efficient of it, -- he

†† works in us as he pleases.


†† 1. In vain do men seek other remedies; they shall not be healed by

†† them. What several ways have been prescribed for this, to have sin

†† mortified, is known. The greatest part of popish religion, of that

†† which looks most like religion in their profession, consists in

†† mistaken ways and means of mortification. This is the pretence of their

†† rough garments, whereby they deceive. Their vows, orders, fastings,

†† penances, are all built on this ground; they are all for the mortifying

†† of sin. Their preachings, sermons, and books of devotion, they look all

†† this way. Hence, those who interpret the locusts that came out of the

†† bottomless pit, Rev. ix. 3, to be the friars of the Romish church, who

†† are said to torment men, so "that they should seek death and not find

†† it," verse 6, think that they did it by their stinging sermons, whereby

†† they convinced them of sin, but being not able to discover the remedy

†† for the healing and mortifying of it, they kept them in such perpetual

†† anguish and terror, and such trouble in their consciences, that they

†† desired to die. This, I say, is the substance and glory of their

†† religion; but what with their labouring to mortify dead creatures,

†† ignorant of the nature and end of the work, -- what with the poison

†† they mixed with it, in their persuasion of its merit,

†† supererogation (as they style their unnecessary merit, with a proud,

†† barbarous title), -- their glory is their shame: but of them and their

†† mortification more afterward, chap. vii.


†† That the ways and means to be used for the mortification of sin

†† invented by them are still insisted on and prescribed, for the same

†† end, by some who should have more light and knowledge of the gospel, is

†† known. Such directions to this purpose have of late been given by some,

†† and are greedily catched at by others professing themselves

†† Protestants, as might have become popish devotionists three or four

†† hundred years ago. Such outside endeavours, such bodily exercises, such

†† self-performances, such merely legal duties, without the least mention

†† of Christ or his Spirit, are varnished over with swelling words of

†† vanity, for the only means and expedients for the mortification of sin,

†† as discover a deep-rooted unacquaintedness with the power of God and

†† mystery of the gospel. The consideration hereof was one motive to the

†† publishing of this plain discourse.


†† Now, the reasons why the Papists can never, with all their endeavours,

†† truly mortify any one sin, amongst others, are, --


†† (1.) Because many of the ways and means they use and insist upon for

†† this end were never appointed of God for that purpose. (Now, there is

†† nothing in religion that has any efficacy for compassing an end, but

†† it has it from God's appointment of it to that purpose.) Such as these

†† are their rough garments, their vows, penances, disciplines, their

†† course of monastical life, and the like; concerning all which God will

†† say, "Who has required these things at your hand?" and, "In vain do you

†† worship me, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men." Of the same

†† nature are sundry self-vexations insisted on by others.


†† (2.) Because those things that are appointed of God as means are not

†† used by them in their due place and order, -- such as are praying,

†† fasting, watching, meditation, and the like. These have their use in

†† the business in hand; but whereas they are all to be looked on as

†† streams, they look on them as the fountain. Whereas they effect and

†† accomplish the end as means only, subordinate to the Spirit and faith,

†† they look on them to do it by virtue of the work wrought. If they fast

†† so much, and pray so much, and keep their hours and times, the work is

†† done. As the apostle says of some in another case, "They are always

†† learning, never coming to the knowledge of the truth;" so they are

†† always mortifying, but never come to any sound mortification. In a

†† word, they have sundry means to mortify the natural man, as to the

†† natural life here we lead; none to mortify lust or corruption.


†† This is the general mistake of men ignorant of the gospel about this

†† thing; and it lies at the bottom of very much of that superstition and

†† will-worship that has been brought into the world. What horrible

†† self-macerations were practised by some of the ancient authors of

†† monastical devotion! what violence did they offer to nature! what

†† extremity of sufferings did they put themselves upon! Search their ways

†† and principles to the bottom, and you will find that it had no other

†† root but this mistake, namely, that attempting rigid mortification,

†† they fell upon the natural man instead of the corrupt old man, -- upon

†† the body wherein we live instead of the body of death.


†† Neither will the natural Popery that is in others do it. Men are galled

†† with the guilt of a sin that has prevailed over them; they instantly

†† promise to themselves and God that they will do so no more; they watch

†† over themselves, and pray for a season, until this heat waxes cold, and

†† the sense of sin is worn off: and so mortification goes also, and sin

†† returns to its former dominion. Duties are excellent food for an

†† unhealyour soul; they are no physic for a sick soul. He that turns his

†† meat into his medicine must expect no great operation. Spiritually sick

†† men cannot sweat out their distemper with working. But this is the way

†† of men who deceive their own souls; as we shall see afterward.


†† That none of these ways are sufficient is evident from the nature of

†† the work itself that is to be done; it is a work that requires so many

†† concurrent actings in it as no self-endeavour can reach unto, and is of

†† that kind that an almighty energy is necessary for its accomplishment;

†† as shall be afterward manifested.


†† 2. It is, then, the work of the Spirit. For, --


†† (1.) He is promised of God to be given unto us to do this work. The

†† taking away of the stony heart, -- that is, the stubborn, proud,

†† rebellious, unbelieving heart, -- is in general the work of

†† mortification that we treat of. Now this is still promised to be done

†† by the Spirit, Ezek. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26, "I will give my Spirit, and

†† take away the stony heart;" and by the Spirit of God is this work

†† wrought when all means fail, Isa. lvii. 17, 18.


†† (2.) We have all our mortification from the gift of Christ, and all the

†† gifts of Christ are communicated to us and given us by the Spirit of

†† Christ: "Without Christ we can do nothing," John xv. 5. All

†† communications of supplies and relief, in the beginnings, increasings,

†† actings of any grace whatever, from him, are by the Spirit, by whom he

†† alone works in and upon believers. From him we have our mortification:

†† "He is exalted and made a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto

†† us," Acts v. 31; and of our repentance our mortification is no small

†† portion. How does he do it? Having "received the promise of the Holy

†† Ghost," he sends him abroad for that end, Acts ii. 33. You know the

†† manifold promises he made of sending the Spirit, as Tertullian speaks,

†† "Vicariam navare operam," to do the works that he had to accomplish in

†† us.


†† The resolution of one or two questions will now lead me nearer to what

†† I principally intend.


†† The first is, How does the Spirit mortify sin?


†† I answer, in general, three ways:--


†† [1.] By causing our hearts to abound in grace and the fruits that are

†† contrary to the flesh, and the fruits thereof and principles of them.

†† So the apostle opposes the fruits of the flesh and of the Spirit: "The

†† fruits of the flesh," says he, "are so and so," Gal. v. 19-21; "but,"

†† says he, "the fruits of the Spirit are quite contrary, quite of another

†† sort," verses 22, 23. Yea; but what if these are in us and do abound,

†† may not the other abound also? No, says he, verse 24, "They that are

†† Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." But

†† how? Why, verse 25, "By living in the Spirit and walking after the

†† Spirit;" -- that is, by the abounding of these graces of the Spirit in

†† us, and walking according to them. For, saith the apostle, "These are

†† contrary one to another," verse 17; so that they cannot both be in the

†† same subject, in any intense or high degree. This "renewing of us by

†† the Holy Ghost," as it is called, Tit. iii. 5, is one great way of

†† mortification; he causes us to grow, thrive, flourish, and abound in

†† those graces which are contrary, opposite, and destructive to all the

†† fruits of the flesh, and to the quiet or thriving of indwelling sin

†† itself.


†† [2.] By a real physical efficiency on the root and habit of sin, for

†† the weakening, destroying, and taking it away. Hence he is called a

†† "Spirit of judgment and burning," Isa. iv. 4, really consuming and

†† destroying our lusts. He takes away the stony heart by an almighty

†† efficiency; for as he begins the work as to its kind, so he carries it

†† on as to its degrees. He is the fire which burns up the very root of

†† lust.


†† [3.] He brings the cross of Christ into the heart of a sinner by faith,

†† and gives us communion with Christ in his death, and fellowship in his

†† sufferings: of the manner whereof more afterward.


†† Secondly. If this be the work of the Spirit alone, how is it that we

†† are exhorted to it? -- seeing the Spirit of God only can do it, let the

†† work be left wholly to him.


†† [1.] It is no otherwise the work of the Spirit but as all graces and

†† good works which are in us are his. He "works in us to will and to do

†† of his own good pleasure," Phil. ii. 13; he works "all our works in

†† us," Isa. xxvi. 12, -- "the work of faith with power," 2 Thess. i. 11,

†† Col. ii. 12; he causes us to pray, and is a "Spirit of supplication,"

†† Rom. viii. 26, Zech. xii 10; and yet we are exhorted, and are to be

†† exhorted, to all these.


†† [2.] He does not so work our mortification in us as not to keep it

†† still an act of our obedience. The Holy Ghost works in us and upon us,

†† as we are fit to be wrought in and upon; that is, so as to preserve our

†† own liberty and free obedience. He works upon our understandings,

†† wills, consciences, and affections, agreeably to their own natures; he

†† works in us and with us, not against us or without us; so that his

†† assistance is an encouragement as to the facilitating of the work, and

†† no occasion of neglect as to the work itself. And, indeed, I might here

†† bewail the endless, foolish labour of poor souls, who, being convinced

†† of sin, and not able to stand against the power of their convictions,

†† do set themselves, by innumerable perplexing ways and duties, to keep

†† down sin, but, being strangers to the Spirit of God, all in vain. They

†† combat without victory, have war without peace, and are in slavery all

†† their days. They spend their strength for that which is not bread, and

†† their labour for that which profits not.


†† This is the saddest warfare that any poor creature can be engaged in. A

soul under the power of conviction from the law is pressed to fight

†† against sin, but has no strength for the combat. They cannot but

†† fight, and they can never conquer; they are like men thrust on the

†† sword of enemies on purpose to be slain. The law drives them on, and

†† sin beats them back. Sometimes they think, indeed, that they have

†† foiled sin, when they have only raised a dust that they see it not;

†† that is, they distemper their natural affections of fear, sorrow, and

†† anguish, which makes them believe that sin is conquered when it is not

†† touched. By that time they are cold, they must to the battle again; and

†† the lust which they thought to be slain appears to have had no wound.


†† And if the case be so sad with them who do labour and strive, and yet

†† enter not into the kingdom, what is their condition who despise all

†† this; who are perpetually under the power and dominion of sin, and love

†† to have it so; and are troubled at nothing, but that they cannot make

†† sufficient provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof?


†††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††Chapter IV.


†† The last principle; of the usefullness of mortification -- The vigour

†† and comfort of our spiritual lives depend on our mortification -- In

†† what sense -- Not absolutely and necessarily; Ps. lxxxviii., Heman's

†† condition -- Not as on the next and immediate cause -- As a means; by

†† removing of the contrary -- The desperate effects of any unmortified

†† lust; it weakens the soul, Ps. xxxviii. 3, 8, sundry ways, and darkens

†† it -- All graces improved by the mortification of sin -- The best

†† evidence of sincerity.


†† The last principle I shall insist on (omitting, first, the necessity of

†† mortification unto life, and, secondly, the certainty of life upon

†† mortification) is, --


†† III. That the life, vigour, and comfort of our spiritual life depend

†† much on our mortification of sin.


†† Strength and comfort, and power and peace, in our walking with God, are

†† the things of our desires. Were any of us asked seriously, what it is

†† that troubles us, we must refer it to one of these heads:-- either we

†† want strength or power, vigour and life, in our obedience, in our

†† walking with God; or we want peace, comfort, and consolation therein.

Whatever it is that may befall a believer that does not belong to one

†† of these two heads, does not deserve to be mentioned in the days of our

†† complaints.


†† Now, all these do much depend on a constant course of mortification,

†† concerning which observe, --


†† 1. I do not say they proceed from it, as though they were necessarily

†† tied to it. A man may be carried on in a constant course of

†† mortification all his days; and yet perhaps never enjoy a good day of

†† peace and consolation. So it was with Heman, Ps. lxxxviii.; his life

†† was a life of perpetual mortification and walking with God, yet terrors

†† and wounds were his portion all his days. But God singled out Heman, a

†† choice friend, to make him an example to them that afterward should be

†† in distress. Canst you complain if it be no otherwise with you than

†† it was with Heman, that eminent servant of God? and this shall be his

†† praise to the end of the world. God makes it his prerogative to speak

†† peace and consolation, Isa. lvii. 18, 19. "I will do that work," says

†† God, "I will comfort him," verse 18. But how? By an immediate work of

†† the new creation: "I create it," says God. The use of means for the

†† obtaining of peace is ours; the bestowing of it is God's prerogative.


†† 2. In the ways instituted by God for to give us life, vigour, courage,

†† and consolation, mortification is not one of the immediate causes of

†† it. They are the privileges of our adoption made known to our souls

†† that give us immediately these things. "The Spirit bearing witness with

†† our spirits that we are the children of God," giving us a new name and

†† a white stone, adoption and justification, -- that is, as to the sense

†† and knowledge of them, -- are the immediate causes (in the hand of the

†† Spirit) of these things. But this I say, --


†† 3. In our ordinary walking with God, and in an ordinary course of his

†† dealing with us, the vigour and comfort of our spiritual lives depend

†† much on our mortification, not only as a "causa sine qua non," but as a

†† thing that has an effectual influence there into. For, --


†† (1.) This alone keeps sin from depriving us of the one and the other.


†† Every unmortified sin will certainly do two things:-- [1.] It will

†† weaken the soul, and deprive it of its vigour. [2.] It will darken the

†† soul, and deprive it of its comfort and peace.


†† [1.] It weakens the soul, and deprives it of its strength. When David

†† had for a while harboured an unmortified lust in his heart, it broke

†† all his bones, and left him no spiritual strength; hence he complained

†† that he was sick, weak, wounded, faint. "There is," saith he, "no

†† soundness in me," Ps. xxxviii. 3; "I am feeble and sore broken," verse

†† 8; "yea, I cannot so much as look up," Ps. xl. 12. An unmortified lust

†† will drink up the spirit, and all the vigour of the soul, and weaken it

†† for all duties. For, --


†† 1st. It untunes and unframes the heart itself, by entangling its

†† affections. It diverts the heart from the spiritual frame that is

required for vigorous communion with God; it lays hold on the

†† affections, rendering its object beloved and desirable, so expelling

†† the love of the Father, 1 John. ii. 15, iii 17; so that the soul cannot

†† say uprightly and truly to God, "You art my portion," having something

†† else that it loves. Fear, desire, hope, which are the choice affections

†† of the soul, that should be full of God, will be one way or other

†† entangled with it.


†† 2dly. It fills the thoughts with contrivances about it. Thoughts are

†† the great purveyors of the soul to bring in provision to satisfy its

†† affections; and if sin remain unmortified in the heart, they must ever

†† and anon be making provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts

†† thereof. They must glaze, adorn, and dress the objects of the flesh,

†† and bring them home to give satisfaction; and this they are able to do,

†† in the service of a defiled imagination, beyond all expression.


†† 3dly. It breaks out and actually hinders duty. The ambitious man must

†† be studying, and the worldling must be working or contriving, and the

†† sensual, vain person providing himself for vanity, when they should be

†† engaged in the worship of God.


†† Were this my present business, to set forth the breaches, ruin,

†† weakness, desolations, that one unmortified lust will bring upon a

†† soul, this discourse must be extended much beyond my intendment.


†† [2.] As sin weakens, so it darkens the soul. It is a cloud, a thick

†† cloud, that spreads itself over the face of the soul, and intercepts

†† all the beams of God's love and favour. It takes away all sense of the

†† privilege of our adoption; and if the soul begins to gather up thoughts

†† of consolation, sin quickly scatters them: of which afterward.


†† Now, in this regard does the vigour and power of our spiritual life

†† depend on our mortification: It is the only means of the removal of

†† that which will allow us neither the one nor the other. Men that are

†† sick and wounded under the power of lust make many applications for

†† help; they cry to God when the perplexity of their thoughts overwhelms

†† them, even to God do they cry, but are not delivered; in vain do they

†† use many remedies, -- " they shall not be healed." So, Hos. v. 13,

†† "Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound," and attempted sundry

†† remedies: nothing will do until they come (verse 15) to "acknowledge

†† their offence." Men may see their sickness and wounds, but yet, if they

†† make not due applications, their cure will not be effected.


(2.) Mortification prunes all the graces of God, and makes room for

†† them in our hearts to grow. The life and vigour of our spiritual lives

†† consists in the vigour and flourishing of the plants of grace in our

†† hearts. Now, as you may see in a garden, let there be a precious herb

†† planted, and let the ground be untilled, and weeds grow about it,

†† perhaps it will live still, but be a poor, withering, unuseful thing.

†† You must look and search for it, and sometimes can scarce find it; and

†† when you do, you can scarce know it, whether it be the plant you look

†† for or no; and suppose it be, you can make no use of it at all. When,

†† let another of the same kind be set in the ground, naturally as barren

†† and bad as the other, but let it be well weeded, and everything that

†† is noxious and hurtful removed from it, -- it flourishes and thrives;

†† you may see it at first look into the garden, and have it for your use

†† when you please. So it is with the graces of the Spirit that are

†† planted in our hearts. That is true; they are still, they abide in a

†† heart where there is some neglect of mortification; but they are ready

†† to die, Rev. iii. 2, they are withering and decaying. The heart is like

†† the sluggard's field, -- so overgrown with weeds that you can scarce

†† see the good corn. Such a man may search for faith, love, and zeal, and

†† scarce be able to find any; and if he do discover that these graces are

†† there yet alive and sincere, yet they are so weak, so clogged with

†† lusts, that they are of very little use; they remain, indeed, but are

†† ready to die. But now let the heart be cleansed by mortification, the

†† weeds of lust constantly and daily rooted up (as they spring daily,

†† nature being their proper soil), let room be made for grace to thrive

†† and flourish, -- how will every grace act its part, and be ready for

†† every use and purpose!


†† (3.) As to our peace; as there is nothing that has any evidence of

†† sincerity without it, so I know nothing that has such an evidence of

†† sincerity in it; -- which is no small foundation of our peace.

†† Mortification is the soul's vigorous opposition to self, wherein

†† sincerity is most evident.


††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††Chapter V.


†† The principal intendment of the whole discourse proposed -- The first

†† main case of conscience stated -- What it is to mortify any sin,

†† negatively considered -- Not the utter destruction of it in this life

†† -- Not the dissimulation of it --Not the improvement of any natural

†† principle -- Not the diversion of it -- Not an occasional conquest --

†† Occasional conquests of sin, what and when; upon the eruption of sin;

†† in time of danger or trouble.


†† These things being premised, I come to my principal intention, of

†† handling some questions or practical cases that present themselves in

†† this business of mortification of sin in believers.


†† The first, which is the head of all the rest, and whereunto they are

†† reduced, may be considered as lying under the ensuing proposal:--


†† Suppose a man to be a true believer, and yet finds in himself a

†† powerful indwelling sin, leading him captive to the law of it,

†† consuming his heart with trouble, perplexing his thoughts, weakening

†† his soul as to duties of communion with God, disquieting him as to

†† peace, and perhaps defiling his conscience, and exposing him to

†† hardening through the deceitfullness of sin, -- what shall he do? what

†† course shall he take and insist on for the mortification of this sin,

†† lust, distemper, or corruption, to such a degree as that, though it be

†† not utterly destroyed, yet, in his contest with it, he may be enabled

†† to keep up power, strength, and peace in communion with God?


†† In answer to this important inquiry, I shall do these things:--


†† I. Show what it is to mortify any sin, and that both negatively and

†† positively, that we be not mistaken in the foundation.


†† II. Give general directions for such things as without which it will be

†† utterly impossible for anyone to get any sin truly and spiritually

†† mortified.


†† III. Draw out the particulars whereby this is to be done; in the whole

†† carrying on this consideration, that it is not of the doctrine of

†† mortification in general, but only in reference to the particular case

before proposed, that I am treating.


†† I. 1. (1.) To mortify a sin is not utterly to kill, root it out, and

†† destroy it, that it should have no more hold at all nor residence in

†† our hearts. It is true this is that which is aimed at; but this is not

†† in this life to be accomplished. There is no man that truly sets

†† himself to mortify any sin, but he aims at, intends, desires its utter

†† destruction, that it should leave neither root nor fruit in the heart

†† or life. He would so kill it that it should never move nor stir any

†† more, cry or call, seduce or tempt, to eternity. Itís not-being is the

†† thing aimed at. Now, though doubtless there may, by the Spirit and

†† grace of Christ, a wonderful success and eminency of victory against

†† any sin be attained, so that a man may have almost constant triumph

†† over it, yet an utter killing and destruction of it, that it should not

†† be, is not in this life to be expected. This Paul assures us of, Phil.

†† iii. 12, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already

†† perfect." He was a choice saint, a pattern for believers, who, in faith

†† and love, and all the fruits of the Spirit, had not his fellow in the

†† world, and on that account ascribes perfection to himself in comparison

†† of others, verse 15; yet he had not "attained," he was not "perfect,"

†† but was "following after:" still a vile body he had, and we have, that

†† must be changed by the great power of Christ at last, verse 21. This we

†† would have; but God sees it best for us that we should be complete in

†† nothing in ourselves, that in all things we must be "complete in

†† Christ;" which is best for us, Col. ii. 10.


†† (2.) I think I need not say it is not the dissimulation of a sin. When

†† a man on some outward respects forsakes the practice of any sin, men

†† perhaps may look on him as a changed man. God knows that to his former

†† iniquity he has added cursed hypocrisy, and is got in a safer path to

†† hell than he was in before. He has got another heart than he had, that

†† is more cunning; not a new heart, that is more holy.


†† (3.) The mortification of sin consists not in the improvement of a

†† quiet, sedate nature. Some men have an advantage by their natural

†† constitution so far as that they are not exposed to such violence of

†† unruly passions and tumultuous affections as many others are. Let now

†† these men cultivate and improve their natural frame and temper by

†† discipline, consideration, and prudence, and they may seem to

†† themselves and others very mortified men, when, perhaps, their hearts

†† are a standing sink of all abominations. Some man is never so much

†† troubled all his life, perhaps, with anger and passion, nor does

†† trouble others, as another is almost every day; and yet the latter has

†† done more to the mortification of the sin than the former. Let not such

†† persons try their mortification by such things as their natural temper

†† gives no life or vigour to. Let them bring themselves to self-denial,

†† unbelief, envy, or some such spiritual sin, and they will have a better

†† view of themselves.


†† (4.) A sin is not mortified when it is only diverted. Simon Magus for a

†† season left his sorceries; but his covetousness and ambition, that set

†† him on work, remained still, and would have been acting another way.

†† Therefore Peter tells him, "I perceive you art in the gall of

†† bitterness;" -- "Notwithstanding the profession you hast made,

†† notwithstanding your relinquishment of your sorceries, your lust is as

†† powerful as ever in you; the same lust, only the streams of it are

†† diverted. It now exerts and puts forth itself another way, but it is

†† the old gall of bitterness still." A man may be sensible of a lust, set

†† himself against the eruptions of it, take care that it shall not break

†† forth as it has done, but in the meantime suffer the same corrupted

†† habit to vent itself some other way; as he who heals and skins a

†† running sore thinks himself cured, but in the meantime his flesh

†† festereth by the corruption of the same humour, and breaks out in

†† another place. And this diversion, with the alterations that attend it,

†† often befalls men on accounts wholly foreign unto grace: change of the

†† course of life that a man was in, of relations, interests, designs, may

effect it; yea, the very alterations in men's constitutions, occasioned

†† by a natural progress in the course of their lives, may produce such

†† changes as these. Men in age do not usually persist in the pursuit of

†† youthful lusts, although they have never mortified any one of them. And

†† the same is the case of bartering of lusts, and leaving to serve one

†† that a man may serve another. He that changes pride for worldliness,

†† sensuality for Pharisaism, vanity in himself to the contempt of others,

†† let him not think that he has mortified the sin that he seems to have

†† left. He has changed his master, but is a servant still.


†† (5.) Occasional conquests of sin do not amount to a mortifying of it.


†† There are two occasions or seasons wherein a man who is contending with

†† any sin may seem to himself to have mortified it:--


†† [1.] When it has had some sad eruption, to the disturbance of his

†† peace, terror of his conscience, dread of scandal, and evident

†† provocation of God. This awakens and stirs up all that is in the man,

†† and amazes him, fills him with abhorrency of sin, and himself for it;

†† sends him to God, makes him cry out as for life, to abhor his lust as

†† hell, and to set himself against it. The whole man, spiritual and

†† natural, being now awaked, sin shrinks in its head, appears not, but

†† lies as dead before him: as when one that has drawn nigh to an army in

†† the night, and has killed a principal person, -- instantly the guards

†† awake, men are roused up, and strict inquiry is made after the enemy,

†† who, in the meantime, until the noise and tumult be over, hides

†† himself, or lies like one that is dead, yet with firm resolution to do

†† the like mischief again upon the like opportunity. Upon the sin among

†† the Corinthians, see how they muster up themselves for the surprisal

†† and destruction of it, 2 Epist. chap. vii. 11. So it is in a person

†† when a breach has been made upon his conscience, quiet, perhaps

†† credit, by his lust, in some eruption of actual sin; -- carefullness,

†† indignation, desire, fear, revenge, are all set on work about it and

†† against it, and lust is quiet for a season, being run down before them;

†† but when the hurry is over and the inquest past, the thief appears

†† again alive, and is as busy as ever at his work.


†† [2.] In a time of some judgment, calamity, or pressing affliction; the

†† heart is then taken up with thoughts and contrivances of flying from

†† the present troubles, fears, and dangers. This, as a convinced person

†† concludes, is to be done only by relinquishment of sin, which gains

†† peace with God. It is the anger of God in every affliction that galls a

†† convinced person. To be quit of this, men resolve at such times against

†† their sins. Sin shall never more have any place in them; they will

†† never again give up themselves to the service of it. Accordingly, sin

†† is quiet, stirs not, seems to be mortified; not, indeed, that it has

†† received any one wound, but merely because the soul has possessed its

†† faculties, whereby it should exert itself, with thoughts inconsistent

†† with the motions thereof; which, when they are laid aside, sin returns

†† again to its former life and vigour. So they Ps. lxxviii. 32-37, are a

†† full instance and description of this frame of spirit whereof I speak:

†† "For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous

†† works. Therefore their days did he consume in vanity, and their years

†† in trouble. When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned

†† and inquired early after God. And they remembered that God was their

†† rock, and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they did flatter

†† him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For

†† their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his

†† covenant." I no way doubt but that when they sought, and returned, and

†† inquired early after God, they did it with full purpose of heart as to

†† the relinquishment of their sins; it is expressed in the word

†† "returned." To turn or return to the Lord is by a relinquishment of

†† sin. This they did "early," -- with earnestness and diligence; but yet

†† their sin was unmortified for all this, verses 36, 37. And this is the

†† state of many humiliations in the days of affliction, and a great

†† deceit in the hearts of believers themselves lies oftentimes herein.


†† These and many other ways there are whereby poor souls deceive

†† themselves, and suppose they have mortified their lusts, when they live

†† and are mighty, and on every occasion break forth, to their disturbance

†† and disquietness.


††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††Chapter VI.


†† The mortification of sin in particular described -- The several parts

†† and degrees thereof -- The habitual weakening of its root and principle

†† -- The power of lust to tempt -- Differences of that power as to

†† persons and times -- Constant fighting against sin -- The parts thereof

†† considered -- Success against it -- The sum of this discourse

†† considered.


†† What it is to mortify a sin in general, which will make farther way for

†† particular directions, is nextly to be considered.


†† 2. The mortification of a lust consists in three things:--


†† (1.) An habitual weakening of it. Every lust is a depraved habit or

†† disposition, continually inclining the heart to evil. Thence is that

†† description of him who has no lust truly mortified, Gen. vi. 5, "Every

†† imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil continually." He

†† is always under the power of a strong bent and inclination to sin. And

†† the reason why a natural man is not always perpetually in the pursuit

†† of some one lust, night and day, is because he has many to serve,

†† every one crying to be satisfied; thence he is carried on with great

†† variety, but still in general he lies towards the satisfaction of self.


†† We will suppose, then, the lust or distemper whose mortification is

†† inquired after to be in itself a strong, deeply-rooted, habitual

†† inclination and bent of will and affections unto some actual sin, as to

†† the matter of it, though not, under that formal consideration, always

†† stirring up imaginations, thoughts, and contrivances about the object

†† of it. Hence, men are said to have their "hearts set upon evil," the

†† bent of their spirits lies towards it, to make "provision for the

†† flesh." [3] And a sinful, depraved habit, as in many other things, so

†† in this, differs from all natural or moral habits whatever: for whereas

†† they incline the soul gently and suitably to itself, sinful habits

†† impel with violence and impetuousness; whence lusts are said to fight

†† or wage "war against the soul," [4] 1 Pet. ii. 11, -- to rebel or rise

†† up in war with that conduct and opposition which is usual therein, [5]

†† Rom. vii. 23, -- to lead captive, or effectually captivating upon

†† success in battle, -- all works of great violence and impetuousness.


†† I might manifest fully, from that description we have of it, Rom. vii.,

†† how it will darken the mind, extinguish convictions, dethrone reason,

†† interrupt the power and influence of any considerations that may be

†† brought to hamper it, and break through all into a flame. But this is

†† not my present business. Now, the first thing in mortification is the

†† weakening of this habit of sin or lust, that it shall not, with that

†† violence, earnestness, frequency, rise up, conceive, tumultuate,

†† provoke, entice, disquiet, as naturally it is apt to do, James i. 14,

†† 15.


†† I shall desire to give one caution or rule by the way, and it is this:

†† Though every lust does in its own nature equally, universally, incline

†† and impel to sin, yet this must be granted with these two

†† limitations:--


†† [1.] One lust, or a lust in one man, may receive many accidental

†† improvements, heightenings, and strengthenings, which may give it life,

†† power, and vigour, exceedingly above what another lust has, or the

†† same lust (that is, of the same kind and nature) in another man. When a

†† lust falls in with the natural constitutions and temper, with a

†† suitable course of life, with occasions, or when Satan has got a fit

†† handle to it to manage it, as he has a thousand ways so to do, that

†† lust grows violent and impetuous above others, or more than the same

†† lust in another man; then the steams of it darken the mind so, that

†† though a man knows the same things as formerly, yet they have no power

†† nor influence on the will, but corrupt affections and passions are set

†† by it at liberty.


†† But especially, lust gets strength by temptation. When a suitable

†† temptation falls in with a lust, it gives it a new life, vigour, power,

†† violence, and rage, which it seemed not before to have or to be capable

†† of. Instances to this purpose might be multiplied; but it is the design

†† of some part of another treatise to evince this observation.


†† [2.] Some lusts are far more sensible and discernible in their violent

†† actings than others. Paul puts a difference between uncleanness and all

†† other sins: 1 Cor. vi. 18, "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man

†† doeth is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins

†† against his own body." Hence, the motions of that sin are more

†† sensible, more discernible than of others; when perhaps the love of the

†† world, or the like, is in a person no less habitually predominant than

†† that, yet it makes not so great a combustion in the whole man.


†† And on this account some men may go in their own thoughts and in the

†† eyes of the world for mortified men, who yet have in them no less

†† predominancy of lust than those who cry out with astonishment upon the

†† account of its perplexing tumultuatings, yea, than those who have by

†† the power of it been hurried into scandalous sins; only their lusts are

†† in and about things which raise not such a tumult in the soul, about

†† which they are exercised with a calmer frame of spirit, the very fabric

†† of nature being not so nearly concerned in them as in some other.


†† I say, then, that the first thing in mortification is the weakening of

†† this habit, that it shall not impel and tumultuate as formerly; that it

†† shall not entice and draw aside; that it shall not disquiet and perplex

†† the killing of its life, vigour, promptness, and readiness to be

†† stirring. This is called "crucifying the flesh with the lusts thereof,"

†† Gal. v. 24; that is, taking away its blood and spirits that give it

†† strength and power, -- the wasting of the body of death "day by day," 2

†† Cor. iv. 16.


†† As a man nailed to the cross; he first struggles, and strives, and

†† cries out with great strength and might, but, as his blood and spirits

†† waste, his strivings are faint and seldom, his cries low and hoarse,

†† scarce to be heard; -- when a man first sets on a lust or distemper, to

†† deal with it, it struggles with great violence to break loose; it cries

†† with earnestness and impatience to be satisfied and relieved; but when

†† by mortification the blood and spirits of it are let out, it moves

†† seldom and faintly, cries sparingly, and is scarce heard in the heart;

†† it may have sometimes a dying pang, that makes an appearance of great

†† vigour and strength, but it is quickly over, especially if it be kept

†† from considerable success. This the apostle describes, as in the whole

†† chapter, so especially, Rom. vi. 6.


†† "Sin," saith he, "is crucified; it is fastened to the cross." To what

†† end? "That the body of death may be destroyed," the power of sin

†† weakened and abolished by little and little, that "henceforth we should

†† not serve sin;" that is, that sin might not incline, impel us with such

†† efficacy as to make us servants to it, as it has done heretofore. And

†† this is spoken not only with respect to carnal and sensual affections,

†† or desires of worldly things, -- not only in respect of the lust of the

†† flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, -- but also as to

†† the flesh, that is, in the mind and will, in that opposition unto God

†† which is in us by nature. Of what nature soever the troubling distemper

†† be, by what ways soever it make itself out, either by impelling to evil

†† or hindering from that which is good, the rule is the same; and unless