Daily Devotional – Mortification of Sin

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March 28, 2019 by directorfsm

by John Owen – March 28th, 2019

Chapter 13
Speak No Peace (Continued)


2). If rational principles are relied upon

a). The meaning of relying upon rational principles

  When men measure out peace to themselves upon the conclusions that their convictions and rational principles will carry them to, this is a false peace and will not abide. I shall a little explain what I mean by this.

   A man has got a wound by sin; he has a conviction of some sin upon his conscience. He has not walked uprightly as becomes the gospel; all is not well and right between God and his soul. He considers now what is to be done. He has light, and knows what path he must take, and how his soul has been formerly healed. Considering that the promises of God’s Word are the outward means of application for the healing of his sores and quieting of his heart, he goes to them, searches them out, finds out some one or more of them whose literal words are directly suited to his condition. He then says to himself, “God speaks in this promise; here I will take myself a plaster(91) as long and broad as my wound.” And so he brings the word of the promise to his condition, and sets him down in peace. This is another appearance upon the mount: the Lord is near, but the Lord is not in it (1Ki 19:11-12). It has not been the work of the Spirit, Who alone can “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8), but the mere actings of the intelligent, rational soul.

   There are three sorts of lives: the vegetative, the sensitive, and the rational or intelligent. Some things have only the vegetative; some the sensitive also, and that includes the former. Some have the rational, which takes in and supposes both the others. Now, he who has the rational not only acts suitably to that principle, but also to both the others: he grows and is sensible. So it is with men in the things of God. Some are mere natural and rational men; some have a superadded conviction with illumination; and some are truly regenerate. Now, he who has the latter has also both the former; and therefore he acts sometimes upon the principles of the rational, and sometimes upon the principles of the spiritually enlightened man. His true spiritual life is not the principle of all his motions: he acts not always in spiritual strength, neither are all his fruits from that root. In this case that I speak of, he acts merely upon the principle of conviction and illumination, whereby his first natural inclinations are heightened.

   But the Spirit breathes not at all upon all these waters. For example, suppose the wound and disquiet of the soul is upon the account of relapses. Whatever the evil or folly is, even if very small, yet there are no wounds nor disquietments (92) deeper than those that are given the soul on this account. In the inner turmoil of his mind, he finds out that promise: “The Lord…will have mercy upon him, and our God…will abundantly pardon” (Isa 55:7)—that is, He will multiply or add to pardon, He will do it again and again. Or he finds the promise in Hosea 14:4, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely.” This the man considers, and thereupon concludes peace to himself. Whether or not the Spirit of God makes the application, whether or not the Spirit gives life and power to the letter, that he does not regard. He does not hearken whether God the Lord speaks peace. He does not wait upon God, Who perhaps yet hides His face, and sees the poor creature stealing peace and running away with it, knowing that the time will come when He will deal with him again and call him to a new reckoning (Hos 9:9), when he shall see that it is in vain to go one step where God does not take him by the hand.

(91)  plaster – bandage spread with a healing substance to cover and close wounds.
(92)  disquietments – things that rob one of peace, rest, or quietness; disturbances.
Excerpts from Mortification of Sin by John Owen from: The Chapel Library •  chapel@mountzion.org

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