February 25, 2019 by directorfsm
by John Owen – February 25th, 2019
Chapter 7 “RULES FOR MORTIFICATION” Continued
4). The Scriptures
When the Jews, upon the conviction of their sin, were cut to the heart and cried out, “What shall we do?” (Act 2:37), what does Peter direct them to do? Does he bid them go and mortify their pride, wrath, malice, cruelty, and the like? No, he knew that was not their present work, but he calls them to conversion and faith in Christ in general (v. 38). Let the soul be first thoroughly converted, and then, looking “on him whom they pierced” (Joh 19:37), humiliation and mortification will ensue. Thus, when John came to preach repentance and conversion, he said, “Now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees” (Mat 3:10). The Pharisees had been laying heavy burdens, imposing tedious duties and rigid means of mortification, in fastings, washings, and the like, all in vain. John says in effect, “The doctrine of conversion is for you; the axe in my hand is laid to the root.”
And our Savior tells us what is to be done in this case, saying, “Do men gather grapes from thorns?” (Mat 7:16). But suppose a thorn bush be well pruned and cut, and be well taken care of? Yes, but he will never bear figs; “neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (vv. 17-18). It cannot be but every tree will bring forth fruit according to its own kind. What is then to be done? He tells us, “Make the tree good, and his fruit [will be] good” (Mat 12:33). The root must be dealt with, the nature of the tree changed, or no good fruit will be brought forth.
This is what I aim at: unless a man be regenerate, unless he be a believer, all attempts that he can make for mortification are to no purpose, be they ever so deceptively attractive and promising. All the means he can use are pointless, even if he should follow them with ever so much diligence, earnestness, watchfulness, and intention of mind and spirit. In vain shall he use many remedies; he shall not be healed.