January 2, 2019 by directorfsm
Today we begin this years new devotional series based on the recently revised classic MORTIFICATION OF SIN by John Owen.
MORTIFICATION OF SIN: PREFACE
I shall in a few words acquaint you with the reasons that obtained my consent to the publishing of the following discourse. Chief among them is the consideration of the present state and condition of the main body of those who profess belief in Christ. The visible evidences of the frame(1) of their hearts and spirits show a great disability for dealing with the temptations with which they are encompassed from the peace they have in the world and the divisions that they have among themselves. 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 achieving the mortification of sin, I shall well esteem this undertaking worthwhile. The second reason for publishing this is the observation of some men’s dangerous mistakes, who of late have given directions for the mortification of sin and 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-made mortification on the necks of their disciples, which neither they nor their forefathers were ever able to bear (Act 15:10). The mortification they praise and press is not suitable to that of the gospel either in respect of nature, subject, causes, means, or effects. It constantly produces the deplorable results 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.(2) 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 for their direction in safe paths, wherein they may find rest to their souls.
I have to add something as to what in particular relates unto myself. Having preached on this subject with some comfortable success, through the grace of Him that administers seed to the sower, I was pressed by various 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 that I have now for some years owed to various noble and worthy Christian friends, as to a treatise about communion with God, some while since promised to them.(3) I thereon apprehended that if I could not at this time provide for the greater debt, yet I might possibly give them this discourse of variance (4) with themselves as interest for their forbearance of that other work on peace and communion with God.
Besides, I considered that I had been providentially (5) engaged in the public debate of several controversies in religion, which might seem to claim something in another kind of more general use, as a result 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 Savior Jesus Christ may be adorned in all things. If this little discourse (and this is all the account I shall give of its publishing) may in anything be useful to the least of the saints for the achievement of this purpose, it will be looked on as a return of the weak prayers wherewith it is attended by its unworthy author.
—John Owen, a servant of Jesus Christ in the work of the gospel
1) frame – condition.
2 ) God’s gracious purpose of redemption, conceived before the creation of the world, first announced in Genesis 3:15, progressively revealed in history, accomplished in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the benefit of which is applied to all that believe in Him (Gen 3:15; Gen 12:1-3; 2Sa 7:5-17; Jer 31:31-34; Gal 3); See The Covenants of Works and of Grace by Walter J. Chantry, available from CHAPEL LIBRARY. 3) Since the first edition of this treatise, that other also is published.—from the 2nd edition
4 variance – discord; battle within a believer as he strives to mortify lust.
5 providentially – according to God’s “most holy, wise, and powerful, preserving and governing all His creatures and all their actions” (Psa 103:19; Mat 10:29). (Spurgeon’s Catechism, Q.11; available from CHAPEL LIBRARY)