March 16, 2019 by directorfsm
by John Owen – March 15th, 2019
Five Others (Continued)
3. Load Your Conscience with the Guilt of Sin (continued)
A; 2). Guilt from gospel light
Bring your lust to the gospel, not for relief, but for further conviction of its guilt. Look on Him Whom you have pierced and be in bitterness (Zec 12:10). Say to your soul, “What have I done? What love, what mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on! Is this the return I make to the Father for His love, to the Son for His blood, to the Holy Ghost for His grace? Do I repay the Lord in such a way? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash, that the blessed Spirit has chosen to dwell in? And can I keep myself out of the dust?
“What can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? How shall I hold up my head with any boldness before Him? Do I account communion with Him of so little value, that for this vile lust’s sake I have scarce left Him any room in my heart? How shall I escape if I neglect so great salvation (Heb 2:3)? In the meantime, what shall I say to the Lord? Love, mercy, grace, goodness, peace, joy, consolation—I have despised them all, and esteemed them as a thing of naught, that I might harbor a lust in my heart! Have I obtained a view of God’s fatherly countenance so that I might behold His face, and then provoke Him to His face? Was my soul washed so that room might be made for new defilements? Shall I endeavor to disappoint the purpose of the death of Christ? Shall I daily grieve that Spirit whereby I am sealed to the day of redemption?”
Entertain your conscience daily with this entreaty. See if it can stand before this aggravation of its guilt. If this make it not soften and sink in some measure, I fear your case is dangerous.
b. After general aspects of guilt, focus on the particulars
Now descend to particulars. Just as, under the general head of the gospel, all the benefits of it are to be considered, such as redemption, justification, and the like; so, in particular, consider the management of the love of them towards your own soul, for the aggravation of the guilt of your corruption. As,
1). The infinite patience of God
Consider the infinite patience and forbearance of God toward you in particular. Consider what advantages He might have taken against you, to have made you a shame and a reproach in this world, and an object of wrath forever. Consider how you have dealt treacherously and falsely with Him from time to time: flattered Him with your lips, but broken all promises and engagements, and that by the means of that sin you are now in pursuit of—and yet He has spared you from time to time, although you seem boldly to have put Him to the test to see how long He could hold out. And will you yet sin against Him? Will you yet weary Him, and make Him to serve with your corruptions (Isa 43:24)?
Have you not often been ready to conclude that it was utterly impossible that He should bear any longer with you; that He would cast you off and be gracious no more; that all His forbearance was exhausted, and hell and wrath was prepared for you? And yet, above all your expectation, He has returned with visitations of love—and will you yet abide in the provocation of the eyes of His glory?
2). The recovering grace of God
How often have you been at the door of being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and, by the infinite, rich grace of God, have been recovered to communion with Him again?
Have you not found grace decaying; delight vanishing in duties, ordinances, prayer, and meditation; inclinations to loose, careless walking thriving; and they who before were entangled, almost beyond recovery? Have you not found yourself engaged in such ways, societies, and companies as God abhors—and that with delight? And will you venture any more to the brink of hardness?
3). All God’s gracious dealings
All God’s gracious dealings with you in providential dispensations, deliverances, afflictions, mercies, enjoyments—all ought here to take a place. By these and the like means, I say, load your conscience. Leave not this undertaking until your conscience be thoroughly affected with the guilt of your indwelling corruption—until it is sensible of its wound and lies in the dust before the Lord. Unless this be done to the purpose, all other endeavors are to no purpose. While the conscience has any means to alleviate the guilt of sin, the soul will never vigorously attempt its mortification.