That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
~ Ephesians 4:22
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
~ Colossians 3:5-6
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
~ Romans 6:5-14
The Mortified Christian Shewing the Nature, Signes, Necessity and Difficulty of True Mortification Resolving Divers Cases About Secret and Bosome Sins. With a Discovery of Sincerity: and Speciall Helps Against Men’s Speciall Corruptions. By That Faithfull Minister of Christ, Mr. Christopher Love, late minister of Lawrence Jury, London.
Rom. 8. vers. 13.
For if ye live after the Flesh, ye shall dye: but if ye through the Spirit do mortifie the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
Rom. 8. vers. 13.
—But if ye through the Spirit do mortifie the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
I come now to make further entrance into the 2. Doctrine, (Doct. 2) If you through the Spirit do mortifie the deeds of the body, you shall live. From whence I noted to you, that the mortification of corruption is wrought in us, by the strength of Christs Spirit, not our own.
Before I come to handle the cases of conscience necessary to the prosecution of this point, I shall first prove it to you, by two demonstrations, if you through the Spirit do mortifie, that mortification of corruption is wrought in us by the Spirit of God. And that, —
1. (Demonst. 1) Because the sanctification of a mans nature is the proper and peculiar work, or office of God’s Spirit: and hence the Spirit of God is called the holy Ghost, because its proper office is to make a man holy.
Now mortification is but one part of sanctification, for sanctification consists of these two parts: mortification or a dying unto sin, and vivification or a living unto God; and therefore if sanctification in generall be the work of God’s Spirit, then mortification must needs be the work of the Spirit also.
And hence it is that you often finde this phrase added to the Spirit of God, the sanctification of the Spirit,* as in 1 Pet. 1.2. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,*through sanctification of the Spirit. So in 1 Cor. 6.11. And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
If mortification be a part of sanctification, and the Spirit of God does carry on the whole work of sanctification, it must needs carry on this part of it, mortification.
2. (Demonst 2) This appears to be so, because it is only the Spirit of God that can savingly enlighten a mans mind, and convince his judgement to make him see the evill of sin, and a man will never go about to kill sin, till he be perswaded of the evill and danger of it. And therefore you read in Joh.* 16.18. That for this cause God hath sent his Spirit into the world, that he might convince the world of sin. A man will never seek after a cure till he is sensible of his disease; so you will never go about the extirpation of sin, till you are sensible of the danger and guilt of your sins: and you will never be convinced of the danger and evill of sin, unlesse the Spirit of God does enlighten you. So that the work of mortification is wholly to be ascribed to the Spirit of God,* because that only can so convince us of the evill of sin, as to make us hate and abhorre it and strive against it.
I shall now fall upon the discussing of 3 or 4 needfull cases of conscience touching this point. As,
1. Seeing the Text here saies, (Case 1) if you through the Spirit: the words doe imply, that there is another kinde of mortification that is not wrought by the help of the Spirit, but by the power of a mans own good nature or education, and therefore I shall shew you the difference between corruptions mortified by the power of the Spirit of God, and corruptions meerly restrained by the power of nature.
2. I shall shew you, ( 2) how you may be satisfied in your own consciences that you have mortified your corruptions.
3. ( 3) I shall shew you whether the falling often into the same sin may be consistent with mortification. To begin with the first,
1. (Case 1) Wherein lies the difference between a corruption meerly restrained by the power of nature, and a lust truly mortified by the Spirit of God?
I shall lay you down these 8 apparent differences.
1. (Answered 1) A corruption meerly restrained by the power of nature, does only make a man forbear the act of sin for the present, but does not put into the heart a hatefull disposition against that sin: as it is with a thief in prison, he may be restrained from a sin because he cannot act it, but yet he loves the sin (it may be) as well as ever he did: so a man may for a time refrain from the act of sin, and yet have no inward hatred implanted in his heart against that sin.
As Balaam, he gave two peremptory answers to Balaks messengers, that he would not go down to curse Israel, and yet at last he went, because he loved the wages of unrighteousnesse,*
But now where there is a reall mortification wrought by the power of the Spirit of God, this is so powerfull in thy heart, that it implants in thee a contrary and hatefull disposition to that sin which thou doest not act. So that he doth not only leave sin, but abhorre it: there is not only a cessation from sin, but an indignation against it, and therefore try your selves by this difference.
2. ( 2) The restraint of sin by the power of Nature, doth reach only to more grosse and palpable sins, but not to inward and bosome lusts; by the power of nature a mans conscience may give him a curbe and controll for grosse and visible acts of sin, but it does not extend so far as to secret and bosome sins.
Whereas mortifying grace wrought in us by the Spirit of God, reacteth so far as to a seisure upon inward sins as well as outward, as in Col. 3.5. saies the Apostle,
*Mortifie therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleannesse, &c. not only fornication in the act, but uncleannesse in the thoughts, concupiscence, and inordinate affections. Mortification by the Spirit, reacheth to the crucifying of the inward man, and therefore examine your selves in this particular.
In 2 Sam. 24.10. it is said there, *that David his heart smote him after he had numbred the people. Divines can hardly tell what was Davids sin in numbring them, unlesse it were pride, or carnall confidence, and yet his heart smote him for it. Tender consciences their hearts smite them for little small sins; so his heart smote him likewise, for cutting off the lap of Sauls garment,* 1 Sam. 24.4. which was no sin at all, and yet he was troubled for it. But now a wicked man he is never troubled for small sins; those sins that almost break a godly mans heart, never break his sleep: small sins that are as gravell in a godly mans bowels, are but as gravell in a wicked mans gloves that never troubles him.
3. ( 3) Corruption restrained by the power of nature is a violent and compulsive action, a man undergoes it unwillingly and involuntarily:* in Gen. 20.6. saies God to Abimelech, I also withheld thee from sinning against me, which implies that there was a strong inclination in him to commit that sin, but God withheld him from doing it. A naturall heart though he doth not act a sin, yet he is kept from it unwillingly; but now when a sin is mortified through the strength of the Spirit, then a man does willingly surrender up his lusts: a wicked man may leave sin, but it is as a friend leaves his friend, with a great deal of unwillingnesse, and may shed tears at parting; but a godly man leaves his sins as a poor prisoner leaves his stinking dungeon, or a poor begger his filthy rags, or as a gally-slave is glad to leave plying the oar in a gally. God’s people shall be a people of willingnesse in the day of his power,*and shall say unto their Idols in their indignation, Get you hence.
4. ( 4) When a man is restrained from a sin only by the power of nature, when that restraint is taken off, he runs after that sin with greater eagernesse and greedinesse then ever he did. Hos. 7.6. *Wickedmen are compared to an oven: now you know fire in an oven, being confined within so small a compasse, burns very violently; so a wicked man, the more he is restrained from a sin, the more he burnes with heat, and rage after his lusts: like a river that is dam’d up, when the bank is broken down, it runs out with a great strength, and a mighty torrent. Thus Joash, 2 Chron. 24.2.
*all the while that Jehoiada the Priest lived, he fell into no great sin, but after he was dead, his lust brake out and run down like a mighty torrent, into all manner of sin and wickednesse. So Balaam though his sin was restrained for a season, yet afterward he was more greedy to commit it then ever.
But now a mortified man that hath mortifying grace wrought in him by the Spirit of God, his sins are continually dying and decaying, though they be not quite dead, sin shall never carry that strength and prevalency with it as it hath done, and never make that seisure upon his heart as formerly.
5. ( 5) A man that is restrained from sin only by the power of nature, it is meerly upon carnall considerations. As,
1. 1 A man may forbear a sin because of the presence of men, and not because of the omnipresence of God; but now Joseph when he was tempted to sin, he went higher, (saies he) How shall I do this great wickednesse, and so sin against God? And,
2. 2 A man may be restrained from a sin upon this carnall consideration, lest that sin should bring upon him temporall judgements. Thus Abimelech did forbear sin, in Gen. 20.6. when he knew that Sarah was Abrahams wife,
* saies he to Abraham, Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife, for I might have sinned and so have brought evill upon the Kingdome? this was that which restrained him from sin, and not because God would have been offended by it. But now he that mortifies a sin by the Spirit of God, he abstains from sin, upon spirituall considerations. Such as these; if I commit this sin, I shall thereby dishonour God, and scandalize the Gospell, and my profession, and encourage other sins to break out afresh in me, and the like.
6. ( 6) A man that restrains his sins by the power of nature, he does it more because of that eternall punishment that is annexed to his sin, then because of that internall evill that is in sin. He abstains from sin, not because God is a holy God, but because he is a just God; not because God hates sin, but because he punisheth sin; not because there is a Hell in sin, but because there is a Hell for and after sin.
But now a truly mortified man, he forbears sin, more for the internall evill there is in sin, then for the externall punishment that does accompany sin: as one said, that if Hell stood on one side of him, and sin on the other, upon a deliberate debate with his own soul, he would rather leap into Hell then into sin.
7. ( 7) A man that hath corruptions meerly restrained by the power of nature, though they may be restrained for a time, yet if any temptation, allurement, occasion, or opportunity be offered him to commit that sin, he will easily close with it and imbrace it: as in Prov. 7.22.
* you read there of a young man that passed through the streets in the evening, and there met him a woman in the attire of an Harlot, and tempted him, and it is said he went after her straightway, without any rationall debate, never considering whether God saw him, or whether God would condemn him for that sin or no, but he straightway followed her.
But now a man that hath mortified his corruptions by the power of God’s Spirit, he is still opposing sin, and never commits it but against his will; sin it may be sometime overtakes him, but he runs from it as fast as he can.
8. ( 8) A man that hath sin restrained by the power of nature, this restriction is irksome and burdensom to him, but the letting out of his heart after the commission of a sin, is joysome and gladsome to him: the restraining of a lust is very tedious and troublesome, as in Prov. 13.19.
*It is an abomination for a fool to depart from evill.
And on the other hand it is matter of joy and gladnesse to him to be let loose to sin, that he may take his fill with his sinfull pleasures,
* as in Jer. 11.15. When thou doest evill thou rejoycest; And in Hab. 3.14. their rejoycing is to devour the poor.
But now on the contrary, a godly man he rejoyceth and blesseth God that he is restrained from committing a sin: thus David did in 1 Sam. 25.32.
*When Abigail came to David and kept him from spilling innocent bloud, David blessed the Lord that had sent her to meet him, and blessed Abigail for her advice, which kept him from shedding bloud: and as the restraint of a sin is gladnesse to a godly man, so the falling into a sin is matter of trouble, and sorrow, and tears to him.
As it is with those fishes that breed your orient pearls, those pearls that do grow in the fish, they are the torment and disease of the fish, but when these pearls are put upon a man, they are an ornament and grace to him: So those sins that are matter of joy and delight to the wicked, are the burden, and sorrow, and trouble of the godly. Oh therefore search into your own bosomes, and see whether you can distinguish your selves from those men that have their corruptions only restrained in them by the power of nature, and not mortified by the Spirit of God.
And thus I have done with this first case of conscience, shewing you the difference in these 8 particulars, between a man whose sins are restrained in him only by the power of nature, and a man that hath sin truly mortified in him, by the Spirit of God.
I come now to a second case of conscience, which I hope to dispatch at this time; which is this,
2. Oh but may a poor soul say, (Case 2) How shall I be satisfied in my own conscience, that my sins are truly mortified, and my corruptions subdued through the strength of the Spirit?*
Answ. I shall give you clear and infallible evidences of a mortified man.
1. If so be, ( 1) those corruptions that heretofore have been very stirring in thee, and prevalent over thee, if now when occasions and opportunities of acting those sins be fairly offered thee, and yet thou doest no way close with them; this is a certain evidence that those sins are mortified. Formerly thy nature was as tinder to a spark, no more but touch and take: but now though thou hast opportunity, secresie, security, and all the advantages that may be for the committing of a sin, and yet you do abstain from it: this is an unquestionable evidence that sin is mortified.
This was that which did declare Josephs sin to be mortified, in that when he had opportunity, importunity, secresie, the doors were shut, there were none else in the house but he and his Mistresse; and he had hopes of advancement and preferment too, she would have made him a great man in her house; yet all these allurements could not perswade him to imbrace the sin, and so offend God.
I hope there are many amongst you that hear me this day, that although you should meet with as many temptations to this sin as Joseph did, though no eye should see you, yet you would not for all the world commit this sin; why this doth argue a work of God’s Spirit in your inward man; without which you could never go so farre.
2. ( 2) Another evidence is this, When thou doest make conscience of, and art troubled as well for inward and secret sins, as for open and grosse transgressions: when there is in thy heart a reluctancy against, and true sorrow for small and secret sins, as well as for open and scandalous offences; this is an undoubted evidence, that God hath wrought a work of mortification (in thee) by his own Spirit; when those sins that are no bigger then mole hils, lie as heavie upon thy heart as if they were mountains; and when your conscience can bear you witnesse, that there is no secret lust that makes an incursion upon your soul, but you do strive against and labour to oppose it.