January 21, 2019 by directorfsm
by John Owen – January 21th, 2019
Chapter 3 THE HOLY SPIRIT’S WORK IN MORTIFICATION continued
2) . Because the things that are appointed of God as means(28) are not used by them in their due place and order, such as praying, fasting, watching, meditation, and the like. These have their use in the business in hand if they are all looked upon as streams, (29) but they look on them as the fountain.(30) These things effect and accomplish the end as means only, subordinate to the Spirit and faith; but they look on them to do it by virtue of the work itself. If they fast so much, pray so much, and keep their hours and times, the work is done! As the apostle says of some in another case, they are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2Ti 3:7); so, they are always mortifying but never come to any sound mortification. In a word, they have various means to mortify the natural man, as to the natural life we lead here; but none to mortify [the root] 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(31) were practiced 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 seeking a severe mortification, they attempt-ed to mortify the natural man instead of the corrupt old man, the physical body we live in in-stead of the “body of death.”