Notes on Mortification (3)

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

So what is mortification not? The first of these is philosophic. Some of the old philosophers condemned riches and many other material benefits and pleasures. Alas most were hypocrites, dissemblers. Seneca for instance, would write that nature ought to be satisfied with food and drink, that a house of grass was sufficient for anyone, yet he was a very covetous man. Another, Cicero, was an aspiring man, even though he maligned pride very much. Others of course, not by the Spirit of God and the cross of Christ, on the basis of gospel principles, but upon mere moral considerations, like the pagans of old (recently revived). These taught men to moderate their inordinate desires and passions by precepts and habits of moral virtue. Then there has been the Stoics and the papists, who both doing much violence to themselves, yet without special grace do not shift one single sin. Another false way of mortification is that of Antinomians, who suppress all inward sense and trouble for sin. These cry down as legal this whole business of mortification. What is sin in others is no sin to them, even gross outward wickedness. But our Lord came to redeem sinners, not in sin; but he justifies our persons, not our sins; this is the way to vivify sin, and to mortify holiness. Sure, David knew not then what mortification meant, “I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3). There are another two ways we must look at next.

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