The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
by John Flavel
File 30
(... continued from file 29)

Sermon 28. 
Gal. 5: 24. 
And they that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh, with the 
affections and lusts. 
                   From hence our observation was, 
That a saving interest in Christ, may be regularly and strong(y 
inferred and concluded from the mortification of the flesh, with its 
affections and lusts. 
    Having opened the nature and necessity of mortification in the 
former sermon, and shown how regularly a saving interest in Christ 
may be concluded from it; we now proceed to apply the whole, by way 
    1. Information. 
    2. Exhortation. 
    3. Direction. 
    4. Examination. 
    5. Consolation. 
                     First use, for information. 
    Inference 1. If they that be Christ's have crucified the flesh, 
Then the life of Christians is no idle or easy life: the corruptions 
of his heart continually fill his hands with work, with work of the 
most difficult nature; sin-crucifying work, which the scripture 
calls the cutting off the right hand, and plucking out of the right 
eye: sin crucifying work is hard work, and it is constant work 
throughout the life of a Christian; there is no time nor place freed 
from this conflict; every occasion stirs corruption, and every 
stirring of corruption calls for mortification: corruptions work in 
our very best duties, Rom. 7: 23. and put the Christian upon 
mortifying labours. The world and the devil are great enemies, and 
fountains of many temptations to believers, but not like the 
corruptions of their own hearts; they only tempt objectively and 
externally, but these tempt internally, and therefore are much more 
dangerous; they only tempt at times and seasons; these continually, 
at all times and seasons: besides, whatever Satan or the world 
attempts upon us, would be altogether ineffectual were it not for 
our own corruptions, John 14: 30. So that the corruptions of our own 
hearts, as they create us most danger, so they must give us more 
labour; our life and this labour must end together; for sin is long 
a dying in the best heart: those that have been many years exercised 
in the study of mortification, may haply feel the same corruption 
tempting and troubling them now, which put them into tears, and many 
times brought them to their knees twenty or forty years ago. It may 
be said of sin as it was said of Hannibal, that active enemy, that 
it will never be quiet, whether conquering or conquered and until 
sin cease working, the Christian must not cease mortifying. 
    Inf. 2. If mortification be the great work of a Christian, then 
certainly those that give the corruptions of Christians an occasion 
to revive, must reeds do them a very ill office; they are not our 
best friends that stir the pride of our hearts by the flattery of 
their lips. The graces of God in others, I confess, are thankfully 
to be owned, and under discouragements, and contrary temptations, to 
be wisely and modestly spoken of; but the strongest Christians do 
scarcely shew their own weakness in any one thing more than they do 
in hearing their own praises. Christian, thou knowest thou carriest 
gun-powder about thee, desire those that carry fire to keep at a 
distance from thee; it is a dangerous crisis when a proud heart 
meets with flattering lips; auferte ignem, &c. take away the fire, 
(said a holy divine of Germany, when his friend commended him upon 
his death bed) for I have yet combustible matter about me; faithful, 
seasonable, discreet reproofs are much more safe to us, and 
advantageous to our mortifying work: but alas, how few have the 
boldness or wisdom duly to administer them? It is said of Alexander, 
that he bid a philosopher (who had been long with him) to be gone; 
for, said he, so long thou hast been with me, and never reproved me; 
which must needs be thy fault; for either thou sawest nothing in me 
worthy of reproof which argues thy ignorance, or else thou durst not 
reprove me, which argues thy unfaithfulness. A wise and faithful 
reprover is of singular use to him that is heartily engaged in the 
design of mortification; such a faithful friend, or some malicious 
enemy, must be helpful to us in that work. 
    Inf. 3. Hence it follows, that manifold and successive 
afflictions are no more than what is necessary for the best of 
Christians: the mortification of our lusts require them all, be they 
never so many, 1 Pet. 1: 5. "If need be, ye are in heaviness:" it is 
no more than need, that one loss should follow another, to mortify 
an earthly heart; for so intensely are our affections set upon the 
world, that it is not one, or two, or many checks of providence, 
that will suffice to wean and alienate them. Alas, the earthliness 
of our hearts will take all this, it may be much more than this, to 
purge them: the wise God sees it but necessary to permit frequent 
discoveries of our own weakness, and to let loose the tongues of 
many enemies upon us, and all little enough to pull down our pride, 
and the vanity that is in our hearts. Christian, how difficult 
soever it be for thee to bear it; yet the pride of thy heart 
requires all the scoffs and jeers, all the calumnies and reproaches, 
that ever the tongues or pens of thy bitterest enemies, or mistaken 
friends, have at any time thrown upon thee. Such rank weeds as grow 
in our hearts, will require hard frosts and very sharp weather to 
rot them; the straying bullock needs a heavy clog, and so does a 
Christian whom God will keep within the bounds and limits of his 
commandments, Psal. 119: 67. Dan. 11: 35. 
    Inf. 4. If they that be Christ's have crucified the flesh, then 
the number of real Christians is very small. It is true, if all that 
seem to be meek, humble, and heavenly, might pass for Christians, 
the number would be great; but if no more must be accounted 
Christians, than those who crucify the flesh, with its affections 
and lusts, O how small is the number! For, O how many be there under 
the Christian name, that pamper and indulge their lusts, that 
secretly hate all who faithfully reprove them, and really affect 
none but such as feed their lusts, by praising and admiring them? 
How many that make provision for the flesh to fulfil its lusts, Who 
cannot endure to have their corruptions crossed? How many are there 
that seem very meek and humble, until an occasion be given them to 
stir up their passion, and then you shall see in what degree they 
are mortified: the flint is a cold stone, till it be struck, and 
then it is all fiery. I know the best of Christians are mortified 
but in part; and strong corruptions are oftentimes found in very 
eminent Christians; but they love them not so well as to purvey for 
them; to protect, defend, and countenance them; nor dare they 
secretly hate such as faithfully reprove them; as many thousands 
that go under the name of Christians do. Upon the account of 
mortification it is said, Mat. 7: 13. "Narrow is the way, and strait 
is the gate that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 
    Inf. 5. If they that be Christ's have crucified the flesh, i.e. 
if mortification is their daily work and study; then how falsely are 
Christians charged as troublers of the world and disturbers of the 
civil peace and tranquillity of the times and places they live in; 
Justly may they retort the charge, as Elijah did to Ahab, "It is not 
I that trouble Israel, but thou and thy father's house:" It is not 
holy, meek, and humble Christians that put the world into confusion, 
this is done by the profane and atheistical; or by the designing and 
hypocritical world, and laid at the door of innocent Christians: as 
all the public calamities which from the immediate hand of God, or 
by foreign or domestic enemies befel Rome, were constantly charged 
upon Christians; and they condemned and punished, for what the 
righteous hand of God inflicted on the working heads of the enemies 
of that state without their privily contrived. The apostle James 
propounds and answers a question very pertinent to this discourse, 
James 4: 1. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come 
they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" O if 
men did but study mortification and self denial, and live as much at 
home in the constant work of their own hearts as some men do; what 
tranquillity and peace, what blessed halcyon days should we quickly 
see! It is true, Christians are always fighting and quarrelling, but 
it is with themselves and their own corrupt hearts and affections; 
they hate no enemy but sin; they thirst for the blood and ruin of 
none but of that enemy; they are ambitious of no victory, but what 
is over the corruptions of their own hearts; they carry no grudge 
except it be against this enemy, sin; and yet these are the men who 
are the most suspected and charged with disturbing the times they 
live in; just as the wolf accused the lamb, which was below him, for 
puddling and defiling the stream. But there will be a day when God 
will clear up the innocency and integrity of his mistaken and abused 
servants; and the world shall see, it was not preaching and praying, 
but drinking, profaneness, and enmity unto true godliness, which 
disturbed and broke the tranquillity and quietness of the times: 
mean time let innocency commit itself unto God, who will protect, 
and in due time vindicate the same. 
    Inf. 6. If they that be Christ's have crucified the flesh, then 
whatsoever religion, opinion, or doctrine does in its own nature 
countenance and encourage sin, is not of Christ. The doctrine of 
Christ every where teacheth mortification: the whole stream of the 
gospel runs against sin; the doctrine it teacheth is holy, pure, and 
heavenly; it has no tendency to extol corrupt nature, and feed its 
pride, by magnifying its freedom and power, or by stamping the merit 
and dignity of the blood of Christ upon its works and performances; 
it never makes the death of Christ a cloke to cover sin, but an 
instrument to destroy it. And whatsoever doctrine it is which 
nourishes the pride of nature, to the disparagement of grace, or 
encourages licentiousness and fleshly lust, is not the doctrine of 
Christ, but a spurious offspring begotten by Satan upon the corrupt 
nature of man. 
    Inf. 7. If mortification be the great business and character of 
a Christian, Then that condition is most eligible and desirable by 
Christians, which is least of all exposed to temptation, Prov. 30: 
8. "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but feed me with food 
convenient." That holy judicious man was well aware of the danger 
lurking in both extremes, and how near they border upon deadly 
temptations, and approach the very precipice of ruin that stand upon 
either ground: few Christians have an head strong and steady enough 
to stand upon the pinnacle of wealth and honour; nor is it every one 
that can grapple with poverty and contempt. A mediocrity is the 
Christian's best external security, and therefore most desirable: 
and yet how do the corruption, the pride and ignorance of our hearts 
grasp and covet that condition which only serves to warm and nourish 
our lusts, and make the work of mortification much more difficult? 
It is well for us that our wise Father leaves us not to our own 
choice, that he frequently dashes our earthly projects, and 
disappoints our fond expectations. If children were left to carve 
for themselves, how often would they cut their own fingers? 
    Inf. 8. If mortification be the great business of a Christian, 
then Christian fellowship and society duly managed and improved, 
must needy be of singular use and special advantage to the people of 
God. For thereby we have the friendly help and assistance of many 
other hands to carry on our great design, and help us in our most 
difficult business; if corruption be too hard for us, others this 
way come in to our assistance, Gal. 6: 1. "Brethren, if a man be 
overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in 
the spirit of meekness." If temptations prevail, and overbear us 
that we fall under sin, it is a special mercy to have the reproofs 
and counsels of our brethren, who will not suffer sin to rest upon 
us, Lev. 19: 17. Whilst we are sluggish and sleepy, others are 
vigilant and careful for our safety: The humility of another 
reproves and mortifies my pride: The activity and liveliness of 
another awakens and quickens my deadness: The prudence and gravity 
of another detects and cures my levity and vanity: The heavenliness 
and spirituality of another may be exceeding useful, both to reprove 
and heal the earthliness and sensuality of my heart. Two are better 
than one, but wo unto him that is alone. The devil is well aware of 
this great advantage, and therefore strikes with special malice 
against embodied Christians, who are as a well disciplined army, 
whom he therefore more especially endeavours to rout and scatter by 
persecutions, that thereby particular Christians may be deprived of 
the sweet advantages of mutual society. 
    Inf. 9. How deeply has sin fixed its roots in our corrupt 
nature, that it should be the constant work of a Christian's whole 
life, to mortify and destroy it? God has given us many excellent 
helps, his Spirit within us, variety of ordinances and duties are 
also appointed as instruments of mortification: And from the very 
day of regeneration unto the last moment of dissolution, the 
Christian is daily at work in the use of all sanctified means, 
external and internal, yet can never dig up and destroy corruption 
at the root all his life long. The most eminent Christians of 
longest standing in religion, who have shed millions of tears for 
sin, and poured out many thousand prayers for the mortification of 
it, do, after all, find the remains of their old disease, that there 
is still life and strength in those corruptions which they have 
given so many wounds unto in duty. O the depth and strength of sin! 
which nothing can separate from us, but that which separates our 
souls and bodies. And upon that account, the day of a believer's 
death is better than the day of his birth. Never till then do we put 
off our armour, sheath our sword, and cry, victory, victory. 
                    Second use, for exhortation. 
    If they who are Christ's have crucified the flesh, &c. Then as 
ever we hope to make good our claim to Christ, let us give all 
diligence to mortify sin; in vain else are all our pretences unto 
union with him. This is the great work and discriminating character 
of a believer. And seeing it is the main business of life, and great 
evidence for heaven, I shall therefore press you to it by the 
following motives and considerations. 
    1 Motive. And first, methinks the comfort and sweetness 
resulting from mortification should effectually persuade every 
believer to more diligence about it. There is a double sweetness in 
mortification, one in the nature of the work, as it is a duty, a 
sweet Christian duty; another as it has respect to Christ, and is 
evidential of our union with him. In the first consideration there 
is a wonderful sweetness in mortification, for dost thou not feel a 
blessed calmness, cheeriness, and tranquillity in thy conscience, 
when thou hast faithfully repelled temptations, successfully 
resisted and overcome thy corruptions? Does not God smile upon thee; 
conscience encourage and approve thee? Hast thou not an heaven 
within thee? whilst others feel a kind of hell in the deadly gripes 
and bitter accusations of their own consciences, are covered with 
shame, and filled with horrors. But then consider it also as an 
evidence of the soul's interest in Christ, as my text considers it; 
and what an heaven upon earth must then be found in mortification! 
These endeavours of mine to subdue and mortify my corruptions, 
plainly speak the Spirit of God in me, and my being in (Christ! and 
O what is this! What heart has largeness and strength enough to 
receive and contain the joy and comfort which flow from a cleared 
interest in Jesus Christ! Certainly, Christians, the tranquillity 
and comfort of your whole life depend upon it; and what is life 
without the comfort of life? Rom. 8: 13. "If ye through the Spirit 
do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live, i.e. you shall live 
a serene, placid, comfortable life; for it is corruption unmortified 
which clouds the face of God, and breaks the peace of his people, 
and consequently imbitters the life of a Christian. 
    2 Motive. As the comfort of your own lives, which is much, so 
your instrumental fitness for the service of God, which is much 
more, depends upon the mortification of your sins, 2 Tim. 2: 21. "If 
a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto 
honour; sanctified and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto 
every good work." Where is the mercy of life but in the usefulness 
and serviceableness of it unto God? It is not worth while to live 
sixty or seventy years in the world to eat and drink, to buy and 
sell, to laugh and cry, and then go down to the place of silence. So 
far as any man lives to God an useful, serviceable life to his 
praise and honour; so far only, and no farther, does he answer the 
end of his being. But it is the purged, mortified soul which is the 
vessel of honour, prepared, and meet for the Master's use. Let a 
proud, or an earthly heart be employed in any service for God, and 
you shall find that such an heart will both spoil the work, by 
managing it for a self-end as Jehu did; and then devour the praise 
of it by a proud boast: Come see my zeal. When the Lord would employ 
the prophet Isaiah in his work and service, his iniquity was first 
purged: and after that he was employed, Isa. 6: 6, 7, 8. Sin is the 
soul's sickness, a consumption upon the inner man; and we know that 
languishing consumptive persons are very unfit to be employed in 
difficult and strenuous labours. Mortification, so far as it 
prevails, cures the disease, recovers our strength, and enables us 
for service to God in our generations. 
    3 Motive. Your stability and safety in the hour of temptation, 
depend upon the success of your mortifying endeavours. Is it then a 
valuable mercy in your eyes to be kept upright and stedfast in the 
critical season of temptation, when Satan shall be wrestling with 
you for the crown, and the prize of eternal life! Then give 
diligence to mortify your corruptions. Temptation is a siege, Satan 
is the enemy without the walls, labouring to force an entrance; 
natural corruptions are the traitors within, that hold 
correspondence with the enemy without, and open the gate of the soul 
to receive him. It was the covetousness of Judas' heart which 
overthrew him in the hour of temptation. They are our fleshly lusts 
which go over unto Satan in the day of battle, and fight against our 
souls, 1 Pet. 2: 11. the corruptions (or infectious atoms which fly 
up and down the world in times of temptation, as that word 
"miasmata", 2 Pet. 2: 20. imports) are through lusts, 2 Pet. 1: 4. 
It is the lust within, which gives a lustre to the vanities of the 
world without, and thereby makes them strong temptations to us, 1 
John 4. 16. Mortify therefore your corruptions, as ever you expect 
to maintain your station in the day of trial: cut off those 
advantages of your enemy, lest by them he cut off your souls, and 
all your hopes from God. 
    4 Motive. As temptations will be irresistible, so afflictions 
will be unsupportable to you without mortification. My friends, you 
live in a mutable work, providence daily rings the chances in all 
the kingdoms, cities, and towns, all the world over. You that have 
husbands or wives to-day, may be left desolate to-morrow: You that 
have estates and children now, may be bereaved of both before you 
are aware. Sickness will tread upon the heel of health, and death 
will assuredly follow life as the night does the day. Consider with 
yourselves; are you able to bear the loss of your sweet enjoyments 
with patience? Can you think upon the parting hour without some 
tremblings? 0 set a heart mortified to all these things, and you 
will bless a taking as well as a giving God. It is the living world, 
not the crucified world, that raises such tumults in our souls in 
the day of affliction. How cheerful was holy Paul under all his 
sufferings! and what think you gave him that peace and cheerfulness, 
but his mortification to the world? Phil. 4: 12. "I know both how to 
be abased, and I know how to abound; every where, and in all things 
I am instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry, both to abound 
and suffer need." Job was the mirror of patience, in the greatest 
shock of calamity, and what made him so, but the mortifiedness of 
his heart, in the fullest enjoyment of all earthly things? Job 31: 
    5 Motive. The reputation and honour of religion are deeply 
concerned in the mortification of the professors of it: For 
unmortified professors will, first or last, be the scandals and 
reproaches of it. The profession of religion may give credit to you, 
but to be sure you will never bring credit to it. All the scandals 
and reproaches that fall upon the name of Christ in this world, flow 
from the fountain of unmortified corruption. Judas and Demas, 
Hymeneus, and Philetus, Ananias and Sapphira ruined themselves, and 
became rocks of offence to others by this means. If ever you will 
keep religion sweet, labour to keep your hearts mortified and pure. 
    6 Motive. To conclude, what hard work will you have in your 
dying hour, except you get a heart mortified to this world, and all 
that is in it? Your parting hour is like to be a dreadful hour, 
without the help of mortification. Your corruptions, like glue, 
fasten your affections to the world, and how hard will it be for 
such a man to be separated by death? O what a bitter and doleful 
parting have carnal hearts from carnal things! whereas the mortified 
soul can receive the messengers of death without trouble, and as 
cheerfully put off the body at death, as a man does his clothes at 
night: Death need not pull and hale; such a man goes half way to 
meet it, Phil. 1: 23. "I desire to be dissolved, and to be with 
Christ, which is far better." Christian, wouldst thou have thy death- 
bed soft and easy; wouldst thou have an "euthanasia", as the 
philosopher desired for himself, an easy death, without pain or 
terror; then get a mortified heart: the Surgeon's knife is scarce 
felt when it cuts off a mortified member. 
                      Third use, for direction. 
    Are you convinced, and fully satisfied of the excellency and 
necessity of mortification, and inquisitive after the means, in the 
use whereof it may be attained; then, for your help and 
encouragement, I will in the next place, offer my best assistance in 
laying down the rules for this work. 
    Rule 1. If ever you will succeed and prosper in the work of 
mortification, then get, and daily exercise more faith. Faith is the 
great instrument of mortification; "This is the victory, (or sword 
by which the victory is won, the instrument) by which you overcome 
the world, even your faith," 1 John 5: 4. By faith alone eternal 
things are discovered to your souls, in their reality and excelling 
glory, and these are the preponderating things, for the sake 
whereof, self-denial and mortification become easy to believers; by 
opposing things eternal to things temporal, we resist Satan, 1 Pet. 
5: 8. This is the shield by which we quench the fiery darts of the 
wicked one, Eph. 6: 16. 
    Rule 2. Walk in daily communion with God, if ever you will 
mortify the corruptions of nature; that is the apostle's own 
prescription, Gal. 1: 17. "This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and 
ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh." Spiritual and frequent 
communion with God, gives manifold advantages for the mortification 
of sin, as it is a bright glass wherein the holiness of God and the 
exceeding sinfulness of sin, as it is opposite thereunto, are most 
clearly and sensibly discovered, than which, scarce any thing can 
set a keener edge of indignation upon the spirit of a man against 
sin. Besides, all communion with God is assimilating and 
transformative of the soul into his image; it leaves also a heavenly 
relish and savour upon the soul; it darkens the lustre and glory of 
all earthly things, by presenting to the soul a glory which 
excelleth: it marvellously improves, and more deeply radicates 
sanctification in the soul; by all which means it becomes singularly 
useful and successful in the work of mortification. 
    Rule 3. Keep your consciences under the awe and in the fear of 
God continually, as ever you hope to be successful in the 
mortification of sin. The fear of God is the great preservative from 
sin, without which all the external rules and helps in the world 
signify nothing: "By the fear of the Lord, men depart from evil," 
Prov. 16: 6. Not only from external and more open evils, which the 
fear of men, as well as the fear of God, may prevent, but from the 
most secret and inward evils, which is a special part of 
mortification, Lev. 19: 14. It keeps men from those evils which no 
eye nor ear of man can possibly discover. The fear of the Lord 
breaks temptations, baited with pleasure, with profit, and with 
secrecy. In a word, if ever you be cleansed from all filthiness of 
flesh and spirit, it must be by the fear of God, 2 Cor. 7: 1. 
    Rule 4. Study the vanity of the creature, and labour to get 
true notions of the emptiness and transitoriness thereof, if ever 
you will attain to the mortification of your affections towards it. 
    It is the false picture and image of the world, in our fancy, 
that crucifies us with so many cares, fears, and solicitudes about 
it: and it is the true picture and image of the world, represented 
to us in the glass of the word, which greatly helps to crucify our 
affections to the world. O if we did but know and believe three 
things about the world, we should never be so fond of it as we are, 
viz. the fading, defiling, and destroying nature of it. The best and 
sweetest enjoyments in the world, are but fading flowers and 
withered grass, Isa. 14: 6. James 1: 10,11. yea, it is of a 
defiling, as well as a fading nature, 1 John 5: 19. it lies in 
wickedness, it spreads universal infection among all mankind, 2 Pet. 
1: 4. yea, it destroys as well as defiles multitudes of souls, 
drowning men in perdition, 1 Tim. 6: 9. Millions of souls will wish, 
to eternity, they had never known the riches, pleasures, or honours 
of it. Were this believed, how would men slacken their pace, and 
cool themselves in the violent and eager pursuit of the world? This 
greatly tends to promote mortification. 
    Rule 5. Be careful to cut off all the occasions of sin, and 
keep at the greatest distance from temptations, if ever you would 
mortify the deeds of the body. The success and prevalency of sin, 
mainly depend upon the wiles and stratagems it makes use of to 
ensnare the incautious soul; therefore the apostle bids us keep off, 
at the greatest distance. 1 Thes. 5: 22. "Abstain from all 
appearance of evil. Prov. 5: 8. "Come not nigh unto the door of her 
house." He that dares venture to the very brink of sin, discovers 
but little light in his understanding, and less tenderness in his 
conscience, he neither knows sin nor fears it as he ought to do: And 
it is usual with God to chastise self-confidence by shameful lapses 
into sin. 
    Rule 6. If you will successfully mortify the corruptions of 
your nature, never engage against them in your own single strength, 
Eph. 6: 10. When the apostle draws forth Christians into the field, 
against sin, he bids them "be strong in the Lord, and in the power 
of his might." O remember what a mere feather thou art in the gusts 
of temptation; call to mind the height of Peters confidence, "though 
all men forsake thee, yet will not I;" and the depth of his fall, 
shame and sorrow. A weak Christian, trembling in himself, depending 
by faith upon God, and graciously assisted by him, shall be able to 
stand against the shock of temptation, when the bold and confident 
resolutions of others (like Pendleton in our English story) shall 
melt away as wax before the flames. 
    Rule 7. Set in with the mortifying design of God, in the day of 
thine affliction; sanctified afflictions are ordered and prescribed 
in heaven for the purging of our corruptions, Isa. 27: 9 "By this, 
therefore, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all 
the fruit to take away his sin." It is a fair glass to represent the 
evil of sin, and the vanity of the creature, to imbitter the world, 
and disgust thy affections towards it: Fall in, therefore with the 
gracious design of God; follow every affliction will prayer, that 
God would follow it with his blessing. God kills thy comforts, out 
of no other design but to kill thy corruptions with them: wants are 
ordained to kill wantonness, poverty is appointed to kill pride, 
reproaches are permitted to pull down ambition: Happy is the man who 
understands, approves, and heartily sets in with the design of God, 
in such afflicting providences. 
    Rule 8. Bend the strength of your duties and endeavours against 
your proper and special sin; it is in vain to lop off branches, 
whilst this root of bitterness remains untouched: This was David's 
practice, Psal. 18: 23. "I was also upright before him, and I kept 
myself from mine iniquity." We observe, in natural men, that one 
faculty is more vigorous than another; we find in nature, that one 
soil suits with some sorts of seeds rather than another: And every 
believer may find his nature and constitution inclining him to one 
sin rather than another. As graces, so corruptions exceed one 
another, even in the regenerate. The power of special corruption 
arises from our constitutions, education, company, custom, callings, 
and such like occasions; but from whensoever it comes, this is the 
sin that most endangers us, most easily besets us; and, according to 
the progress of mortification in that sin, we may safely estimate 
the degrees of mortification in other sins; Strike, therefore, at 
the life and root of your own iniquity. 
    Rule 9. Study the nature and great importance of those things 
which are to be won or lost, according to the success and issue of 
this conflict. Your life is a race, eternal glory is the prize, 
grace and corruption are the antagonists, and accordingly as either 
finally prevails, eternal life is won or lost. 1 Cor. 9: 24. "Know 
ye not that they which run a race, run all, but one receiveth the 
prize? So run that ye may obtain." This condition will make 
mortification appear the most rational and necessary thing to you in 
the whole world. Shall I lose heaven for indulging the flesh, and 
humouring a wanton appetite! God forbid. "I keep under my body, 
(saith Paul) and bring it into subjection; lest if that by any 
means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast 
away," 1 Cor. 9: 28. 
    Rule 10. Accustom your thoughts to such meditations as are 
proper to mortify sin in your affections, else all endeavours to 
mortify it will be but faint and languid: To this purpose, I shall 
recommend the following meditations, as proper means to destroy the 
interest of sin. 
    Meditation 1. Consider the evil that is in sin, and how 
terrible the appearances of God will one day be against those that 
obey it, in the lusts thereof. Rom. 1: 18. "The wrath of God is 
revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of 
men," 1 Thes. 1: 7, 8, 9. "The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from 
heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on 
them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction 
from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." Let 
your thoughts dwell much upon the consideration of the fruits and 
consequences of sin; it shows its fairest side to you in the hour of 
temptation. O but consider how it will look upon you in the day of 
affliction, Numb. 22: 23. in that day your sin will find you out: 
Think what its aspect will be in a dying flour. 1 Cor. 15: 56. "The 
sting of death is sin." Think what the frightful remembrances of it 
will be at the bar of judgement, when Satan shall accuse, conscience 
shall upbraid, God shall condemn, and everlasting burnings shall 
avenge the evil of it: such thoughts as these are mortifying 
    Meditation 2. Think what it cost the Lord Jesus to expiate the 
guilt of sin by suffering the wrath of the great and terrible God 
for it in our room: the meditations of a crucified Christ are very 
crucifying meditations unto sin, Gal. 6: 14. he suffered unspeakable 
things for sin; it was a divine wrath which lay upon his soul for 
it; that wrath of which the prophet saith, Nahum 1: 5, 6. "The 
mountains quake at him, and the hills melt. Who can stand before his 
indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his 
fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him." 
It was unmixed and unallayed wrath, poured out in the fulness of it, 
even to the last drop: and shall we be so easily drawn to the 
commission of those sins which put Christ under such sufferings? O 
do but read such scriptures as these, Luke 22: 44. Matth. 26: 36, 
37. Mark 14: 33. and see what a plight sin put the Lord of glory 
into; how the wrath of God put him into a sore amazement, a bloody 
sweat, and made his soul heavy unto death. 
    Meditation 3. Consider what a grief and wound the sins of 
believers are to the Spirit of God, Eph. 4: 80. Ezek. 16: 43. Isa. 
63: 10. 0 how it grieves the Holy Spirit of God! Nothing is more 
contrary to his nature. "O do not that abominable thing which I 
hate," saith the Lord, Jer. 44: 4. Nothing obstructs and crosses the 
sanctifying design of the Spirit, as sin does; defacing and spoiling 
the most rare and admirable workmanship that ever God wrought in 
this world; violating all the engagements laid upon us by the love 
of the Father, by the death of his Son, by the operations of his 
Spirit in all his illuminations, convictions, compunctions, 
renovation, preservation, obsignation, and manifold consolations. 
Lay this meditation upon thy heart, believer, and say, Sicne 
rependis? dost thou thus requite the lord, O my ungrateful heart, 
for all his goodness? Is this the fruit of his temporal, spiritual, 
common, and peculiar mercies, which are without number? 
    Meditation 4. Consider with yourselves, that no real good, 
either of profit or pleasure can result from sin; you can have no 
pleasure in it, whatever others may have, it being against your new 
nature; and as for that brutish pleasure and evanid joy which others 
have in sin, it can be but for a moment, for either they must repent 
or not repent: if they do repent, the pleasure of sin will be turned 
into the gall of asps here; if they do not repent, it will terminate 
in everlasting howlings hereafter. That is a smart question, Rom. 6: 
21. "What fruit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? 
For the end of those things is death." You that are believers must 
never expect any pleasure in sin; for you can neither commit it 
without regret, nor reflect upon it without shame and confusion: 
expect no better consequents of sin than the woundings of conscience 
and the dismal cloudings of the face of God; that is all the profit 
of sin. O let these things sink into your heart. 
    Meditation 5. Consider what the damned suffer for those sins 
which the devil now tempteth you to commit; it has deprived them of 
all good, all outward good, Luke 16: 25. all spiritual good, Mat. 
25: 41. and of all hope of enjoying any good for ever: and as it has 
deprived them of all good, so it has remedilessly plunged them into 
all positive misery: misery from without, the wrath of God being 
come upon them to the uttermost; and misery from within, for their 
worm dieth not, Mark 9: 44. The memory of things past, the sense of 
things present, and the fearful expectations of things to come, are 
the gnawings and bitings of the worm of conscience, at every bite 
whereof damned souls give a dreadful shriek; crying out, O the worm! 
the worm! Would any man that is not forsaken by reason, run the 
hazard of those eternal miseries for the brutish pleasures of a 
    Meditation 6. Bethink yourselves what inexcusable hypocrisy it 
will be in you to indulge yourselves in the private satisfaction of 
your lusts, under a contrary profession of religion: you are a 
people that profess holiness, and professedly own yourselves to be 
under the government and dominion of Christ: and must the worthy 
name of Christ be only used to cloak and cover your lusts and 
corruptions, which are so hateful to him? God forbid. You daily pray 
against sin, you confess it to God, you bewail it, you pour out 
supplications for pardoning and preventing grace; are you in jest or 
earnest in these solemn duties of religion? Certainly, if all those 
duties produce no mortification, you do but flatter God with your 
lips, and put a dreadful cheat upon your own souls. Nay, do you not 
frequently censure and condemn those things in others, and dare you 
allow them in yourselves? What horrid hypocrisy is this? Christians 
are dead to sin, Rom. 6: 2. dead to it by profession, dead to it by 
obligation, dead to it by relation to Christ, who died for them; and 
how shall they that are so many ways dead to sin, live any longer 
therein? O think not that God hates sin the less in you because you 
are his people, nay, that very consideration aggravates it the more, 
Amos 3: 2. 
    Meditation 7. Consider with yourselves what hard things some 
Christians have chosen to endure and suffer rather than they would 
defile themselves with guilt; and shall every small temptation 
ensnare and take your souls? Read over the 11th chapter to the 
Hebrews, and see what the saints have endured to escape sin; no 
torments were so terrible to them as the displeasure of God, and 
woundings of conscience; and did God oblige them more by his grace 
and favour than he has obliged you? O Christians, how can you that 
have found such mercies, mercies as free, and pardons as full as 
ever any souls found, shew less care, less fear, less tenderness of 
grieving the Spirit of God than others have done; certainly, if you 
did see sin with the saline eyes they saw it, you would hate it as 
deeply, watch against it as carefully, and resist it as vigorously 
as any of the saints have done before you. 
    Meditation 8. Consider with yourselves what sweet pleasure, 
rational and solid comfort is to be found in the mortification of 
sin. It is not the fulfilling of your lusts can give you the 
thousandth part of that comfort and contentment that the resistance 
of them, and victory over them will give you. Who can express the 
comfort that is to be found in the cheering testimony of an 
acquitting and absolving conscience? 2 Cor. 1: 12. Remember what 
satisfaction and peace it was to Hezekiah upon his supposed death- 
bed, when he turned to the wall, and said, "Remember now, O Lord, I 
beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth, and with a 
perfect heart; and have done that which is good in thy sight," Isa. 
38: 3. 
                    Fourth use, for examination. 
    In the next place, this point naturally puts us upon the 
examination and trial of our own heard, whether we, who so 
confidently claim a special interest in Christ, have crucified the 
flesh with its affections and lusts. And because two sorts of 
persons will be concerned in this trial, viz. the weaker and the 
stronger Christians; I shall therefore lay down two sorts of 
evidences of mortification, one respecting the sincerity and truth, 
the other respecting the strength and progress of that work in 
confirmed and grown Christians, and both excluding false pretenders. 
    First, There are some things that are evidential of the truth 
and sincerity of mortification, even in the weakest Christians: as, 
    First, True tenderness of conscience as to all known sins, one 
as well as another, is a good sign sin has lost its dominion in the 
soul. O it is a special mercy to have a heart that shall smite and 
reprove us for those things that others make nothings of: To check 
and admonish us for our secret sins, which can never turn to our 
reproach among men: this is a good sign that we hate sin, however, 
through the weakness of the flesh we may be ensnared by it. Rom. 7: 
15. "What I hate, that I do." 
    Secondly, The sincere and earnest desires of our souls to God 
in prayer for heart-purging and sin-mortifying grace, is a good sign 
our souls have no love for sin. Canst thou say, poor believer, in 
the truth of thy heart, that if God would give thee thy choice, it 
would please thee better to have sin cast out, than to have the 
world cast in: that thy heart is not so earnest with God for daily 
bread, as it is for heart-purging grace? This is a comfortable 
evidence that sin is nailed to the cross of Christ. 
    Thirdly, Do you make conscience of guarding against the 
occasions of sin? Do you keep a daily watch over your hearts and 
senses, according to 1 John 5: 18. Job 31: 1. This speaks a true 
design and purpose of mortification also. 
    Fourthly, Do you rejoice and bless God from your hearts, when 
the Providence of God orders any means for the prevention of sin? 
Thus did David, 1 Sam. 25: 33. "And David said to Abigail, Blessed 
be the Lord God of Israel which sent thee this day to meet me, and 
blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou which hast kept me this 
day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with my own 
    Fifthly, In a word, though the thoughts of death may be 
terrible in themselves, yet if the expectation and hope of your 
deliverance from sin thereby, do sweeten the thoughts of it to your 
souls, it will turn unto you for a testimony, that you are not the 
servants and friends of sin. And so much briefly of the first sort 
of evidences. 
    Secondly, There are other signs of a more deep and thorough 
mortification of sin, in more grown and confirmed believers, and 
such are these. 
    First, The more submissive and quiet any man is under the will 
of God, in smart and afflicting providences, the more that man's 
heart is mortified unto sin, Psal. 119: 67, 71. Col. 1: 11. 
    Secondly, The more able any one is to bear reproaches and 
rebukes for his sin, the more mortification there is in that man, 
Psal. 141: 5. 
    Thirdly, The more easily any man can resign and give up his 
dearest earthly comforts at the call and command of God, the more 
progress that man has made in the work of mortification, Heb. 11: 
17. 2 Sam. 10: 25. 
    Fourthly, The more power any man has to resist sin in the first 
motions of it, and stifle it in the birth; the greater degree of 
mortification that man has attained, Rom. 7: 23, 24. 
    Fifthly, If great changes, upon our outward condition, make no 
change for the worse upon our spirits, but we can bear prosperous 
and adverse providences with an equal mind; then mortification is 
advanced far in our souls, Phil. 4: 11,12. 
    Sixthly, The more fixed and steady our hearts are with God in 
duty, and the less they are infested with wandering thoughts, and 
earthly interpositions; the more mortification there is in that 
soul. And so much briefly of the evidences of mortification. 
                     Fifth use, for consolation. 
    It only remains, that I shut up all with a few words of 
consolation unto all that are under the mortifying influence of the 
Spirit. Much might be said for the comfort of such. In brief, 
    First, Mortified sin shall never be your ruin: It is only 
reigning sin that is ruining sin, Rom. 8: 13. Mortified sins and 
pardoned sins shall never lie down with us in the dust. 
    Secondly? If sin be dying, your souls are living; for dying 
unto sin, and living unto God, are inseparably connected, Rom. 6: 
    Thirdly, If sin be dying in you, it is certain that Christ died 
for you, and you cannot desire a better evidence of it, Rom. 6: 5, 
    Fourthly, If sin be dying under the mortifying influences of 
the Spirit, and it be your daily labour to resist and overcome it, 
you are then in the direct way to heaven, and eternal salvation; 
which few, very few in the world shall find, Luke 13: 24. 
    Fifthly, To shut up all, if you, through the Spirit, be daily 
mortifying the deeds of the body, then the death of Christ is 
effectually applied by the Spirit unto your souls, and your interest 
in him is unquestionable: for they that are Christ's have crucified 
the flesh, with the affections and lusts; and they that have so 
crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts are Christ's. 
    Blessed be God for a crucified Christ. 

The Method of Grace in the Gospel Redemption
(continued in file 31...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: flamt-30.txt