How may one do to offer violence to himself in mortifying the flesh? 1. Withdraw the fuel that may make lust burn. Avoid all temptations. Take heed of that which doth nourish sin. He who would suppress the gout or stone, avoids those meats which are noxious. They who pray that they may not be led into temptation, must not lead themselves into temptation. 2. Fight against fleshly lusts with spiritual weapons: faith and prayer. The best way to combat with sin is, upon our knees.
This discovery of forgiveness in God is great, holy, and mysterious, and which very few on gospel grounds do attain unto.
It is, then, no easy thing to make a discovery of forgiveness to a soul, when the work and employment which conscience, upon unquestionable grounds, challengeth unto itself lies in opposition unto it. Hence is the soul’s great desire to establish its own righteousness,
Many men who live in ways which are not agreeable to the rules of God’s Word, yet are not sensible of it. And it is a difficult thing to make them so because the same lust that leads them into that evil way, blinds them in it. — Thus, if a man [lives] a way of malice or envy, the more malice or envy prevails, the more will it blind his understanding to approve of it. The more a man hates his neighbor, the more will he be disposed to think that he has just cause to hate him, and that his neighbor is hateful, and deserves to be hated, and that it is not his duty to love him. So if a man live in any way of lasciviousness, the more his impure lust prevails, the more sweet and pleasant will it make the sin appear, and so the more will he be disposed and prejudiced to think there is no evil in it.
You never did an action, however private — but Jesus saw it. You never spoke a word, no, not even in a whisper — but Jesus heard it. You never wrote a letter, even to your dearest friend — but Jesus read it. You never thought a thought, however secret — but Jesus was familiar with it. His eyes are as a flaming fire. The darkness is no darkness with Him. All things are open and manifest before Him. He says to every one, ‘I know your works’.
Even where there is sufficient light and conviction as to reveal to sinners that they come short of the Divine rule, and where they perceive that what the Word insists is necessary to salvation is not found in them, instead of abandoning their false hopes they persuade themselves that God is more merciful than the Scriptures represent Him to be. It is true, says the sinner, in such a case, that the way to heaven is a narrow one and that God’s kingdom can only be entered “through much tribulation” (Acts 14:22), but God will save me even though I fail here and there and I he lacking in this and that.
Is it possible for a person to be regenerated, or born again; and yet for many years after fear he is not?
Two other questions like this from the List of Practical Questions, Cases of Conscience 1755
From Four Discourses Against Vice and Profaneness –
- A Friendly Admonition to Drunkards and Tipplers
- A Word of Advice to the Wanton and Unclean
- A Serious Address to Those Who Profane the Lord’s Day
- A Check to an Ungoverned Tongue
This aversion and loathing will oftentimes discover itself in the affections. A secret striving will be in them about close and cordial dealing with God, unless the hand of God in his Spirit be high and strong upon his soul.
Owen wrote, ”
Water that rises and flows from a living spring runs equally and constantly, unless it be obstructed or diverted by some violent opposition; but that which is from thunder-showers runs furiously for a season, but is quickly dried up. So are those spiritual thoughts which arise from a prevalent internal principle of grace in the heart; they are even and constant, unless an interruption be put upon them for a season by temptations. But those which are excited by the thunder of convictions, however their streams may be filled for a season, they quickly dry up and utterly decay.”
Owen wrote, ”
There is a being earthly minded which consists in an inordinate affection unto the things of this world. It is that which is sinful, which ought to be mortified; yet it is not absolutely inconsistent with the substance and being of the grace inquired after. Some who are really and truly spiritually minded, yet may, for a time at least, be under such an inordinate affection unto and care about earthly things, that if not absolutely, yet comparatively, as unto what they ought to be and might be, they may be justly said to be earthly minded. They are so in respect of those degrees in being spiritually minded which they ought to aim at and may attain unto. And where it is thus, this grace can never thrive or flourish, it can never advance unto any eminent degree.