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Thomas Manton on the Excellency of Saving Faith

Thomas Manton on the Excellency of Saving Faith

To depend upon an invisible God for a happiness that lies in an invisible world, when in the meantime He permits us to be harassed with difficulties and troubles, requires faith. It is faith that makes us row against the stream of flesh and blood, and deny its cravings, that we may eventually obtain eternal salvation.

They that are thirsty of bodily life, and the comforts and interests of it, are certainly prodigal of their salvation. The flesh importunes to be pleased. Sense says to us, “Favor yourself, spare the flesh,” but faith says, “Save your soul.”

To creatures wedded to sense and present enjoyment, it is difficult and hard to cause us to set our hearts on another world, and lay up our hopes in heaven, and to part with all things which we see and love and find comfortable to our senses, for that God and glory which we have never seen. But we undervalue God’s gracious promises, whose accomplishments must with patience be expected, while their future goodness comes in actual competition with these bodily delights which we must forego, and those grievous bodily afflictions which we must endure, out of sincere respect to Christ and His ways.

The word of God must be our whole security, as being enough to support our hearts in waiting for it, however God may cover Himself with frowns and an appearance of anger in those afflictions which befall us in the way. The scriptures are written to direct us to know Christ aright, who is the kernel and the marrow of all the scriptures, who is the great subject of the Gospel. The chief benefit we have by Him is eternal life, by which all our pains and losses for Christ are recompensed, and from where we fetch our comfort all along during the course of our pilgrimage, and upon the hopes of which the life of grace is carried on, and the temptations of sense are defeated, so that this is the main blessing which faith aims at.

Nature declares there is a God; scripture declares there is a Christ. And shall we neglect this great salvation brought to us by Jesus Christ, or coldly seek after it? I judge Him faithful that has promised, and depend upon Him that He will make good His word, though this happiness is future and lies in another unseen, unknown world to which there is no coming but by faith.

In our passage to heaven we meet many temptations. We are assaulted both on the right hand and on the left with terrors of sense, which are a discouragement to us, and the delights of sense, which are a snare to us. Christ’s service will bring trouble with it. All that is precious in the world must be renounced, or else we shall not be able to hold out.

We owe God blind obedience. If God will have it so, faith must find a way through the great deep. No dangers are so great that we must decline. Certainly we have no true belief of the promise of eternal life if we can venture nothing upon it. That religion is worth nothing that costs nothing. Are you content to be at some considerable cost for eternal life? Most men love a cheap gospel.

Whether you like it or not, you are at God’s disposal and cannot shift yourselves out of His hands, either here or hereafter. It is a part of your duty to voluntarily surrender yourselves to be disposed of and ordered by God according to His pleasure, to be content to be what He will have you to be, and to do what He will have you to do. You must be content to enjoy what God will have you enjoy, and to lack what He will have you lack, and to lose what He will have you lose.

– From Volume 2 of Manton’s Works

More John Owen on the Mortification of Sin

More John Owen on the Mortification of Sin

The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin.

Mortification from a self-strength, carried on by ways of self-invention, unto the end of a self-righteousness, is the soul and substance of all false religion in the world.

The vigour, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.

Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work? Be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work. Be killing sin or it will be killing you. Your being dead with Christ virtually, your being quickened with Him, will not excuse you from this work.

Who can say that he had ever anything to do with God or for God, that indwelling sin had not a hand in the corrupting of what he did? And this trade will it drive more or less all our days. If, then, sin will be always acting, if we be not always mortifying, we are lost creatures. He that stands still and suffers his enemies to double blows upon him without resistance, will undoubtedly be conquered in the issue. If sin be subtle, watchful, strong, and always at work in the business of killing our souls, and we be slothful, negligent, foolish, in proceeding to the ruin thereof, can we expect a comfortable event? There is not a day but sin foils or is foiled, prevails or is prevailed on; and it will be so while we live in this world.

There is not the best saint in the world but, if he should give over this duty, would fall into as many cursed sins as ever any did of his kind.

The contest is for our lives and souls. Not to be daily employing the Spirit and new nature for the mortifying of sin, is to neglect that excellent assistance which God has given us against our greatest enemy. If we neglect to make use of what we have received, God may justly hold His hand from giving us more. His graces, as well as his gifts, are bestowed on us to use, exercise, and trade with. Not to be daily mortifying sin, is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who has furnished us with a principle of doing it.

Where sin, through the neglect of mortification, gets a considerable victory, it breaks the bones of the soul, Psalm 31:10, 51:8, and makes a man weak, sick, and ready to die, Psalm 38:3-5, so that he cannot look up, Psalm 40:12, Isaiah 33:24. And when poor creatures will take blow after blow, wound after wound, foil after foil, and never rouse up themselves to a vigorous opposition, can they expect anything but to be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and that their souls should bleed to death? 2 John 8. Indeed, it is a sad thing to consider the fearful issues of this neglect, which lie under our eyes every day.

Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who does not kill sin in this way takes no steps towards his journey’s end.

The root of an unmortified course is the digestion of sin without bitterness in the heart. When a man has confirmed his imagination to such an apprehension of grace and mercy as to be able, without bitterness, to swallow and digest daily sins, that man is at the very brink of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Neither is there a greater evidence of a false and rotten heart in the world than to drive such a trade.

– From Volume 6 of Owen’s Works

John Owen on Mortification

John Owen on Mortification

By faith, fill your soul with a due consideration of that provision which is laid up in Jesus Christ for this end and purpose – that all your lusts, even this very lust with which you are entangled, may be mortified. By faith, ponder on this – that though you are in no way able to get the conquest over your disorder by yourself, though you are weary of fighting and are utterly ready to faint, yet there is enough in Jesus Christ to yield relief to you (Philippians 4:13).

Let, then, your soul by faith be exercised with such thoughts and apprehensions as these:

‘I am a poor, weak creature. Unstable as water, I cannot excel. This corruption is too hard for me and is at the very door of ruining my soul, and I don’t know what to do. My soul is become as parched ground and a habitation of dragons. I have made promises and broken them. Vows and engagements have been made for nothing. Many times I have persuaded myself that I had gotten victory and been delivered, but I have been deceived. I plainly see that without some eminent support and assistance, I am lost and shall be prevailed on to an utter relinquishment of God.

But yet, though this be my state and condition, let the hands that hang down be lifted up and the weak knees be strengthened. Behold, the Lord Christ, who has all fullness of grace in His heart and all fullness of power in His hand – He is able to slay all these his enemies. There is sufficient provision in Him for my relief and assistance. He can take my drooping, dying soul and make me more than a conqueror’ (Isaiah 35:7, Isaiah 40:27-31, 2 Corinthians 12:9).

The efficacy of this consideration will be found only in the practice.

From The Works of John Owen, Volume 6, pages 79-80.