February 9, 2019 by directorfsm
by John Owen – February 9th, 2019
Chapter 5 “WHAT MORTIFICATION IS NOT” Continued
4. Not to Divert a Sin
A sin is not mortified when it is only diverted. Simon Magus(42) for a season left his sorceries; but his covetousness and ambition, which had set him on his work, remained still, and would have been acting another way. Therefore, Peter tells him, “I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness” (Act 8:23)—that is, notwithstanding the profession you have made, notwithstanding your relinquishment of your sorceries, your lust is as powerful as ever. It is 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. This is as he who heals and skins a running sore thinks himself cured, but in the meantime his flesh festers underneath by the corruption of the same infection and breaks out in another place. And this diversion, with the alterations that attend it, often befalls men for reasons wholly foreign to grace.
Change of the course of life that a man was in—of relations, interests, designs—may effect(43) 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 of them.
And the same is the case of trading lusts: a man’s leaving off from serving one so that he 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.
(42) Simon Magus – the sorcerer of Acts 8:9-24 (magus is Latin for “magician”).
(43) effect – cause.