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quainted with the great work of mortification; and how unlovely shall the passion of the mortified Christian appear, in comparison with the sedateness of the unmortified sinner! such is the great advantage which a man's natural inclination gives, either to the acting or suppressing of sin. And, therefore, take this rule, by the way, in examining thy mortification: Never reflect upon that seeming prevalency thou hast over those lusts, which are not strengthened and advantaged by the bent and tendency of thy natural inclination; for this will prove a very deceitful mark: rather look what success thou gainest over the sin of thy nature, be it what it will; or against those sins, which no natural temper can ever counterfeit the mortification of, such as unbelief, hardness of heart, impenitency, and such-like spiritual sins, which are common to all men of what temper and disposition soever: otherwise, to conclude that corruption is mortified and subdued, because thou breakest not forth into such sins to which perhaps thy natural inclination is not so strongly bent, is but a false and deceitful evidence.
(2) The not-breaking-out of unmortified corruption, may often be imputed to the absence of temptations, opportunities, and occasions of sinning, and such-like outward advantages; which, were they present, would certainly draw it forth into act.
Either the Devil is wanting to men's corruptions, in fitting them with suitable temptations; or else God's providence, in fitting them with a convenient opportunity: one or both of which, is the true reason why we see no more wickedness committed in the world (though it doth now too fearfully abound) and not the weakening or abating of the power and rage of it by mortification. When the Prophet told Hazael what cruelties he should act upon the Jews; what, saith he, Is thy senant a dog, that he should do this great thing f While he was in his private estate, he could not think his nature had been so cruel: but, when he was advanced to the kingdom of Syria, and had subdued the Israelites; then, the temptations of a conqueror assault him, and he shews tiiat cruelty which before lay lurking and dormant. And so it was with Peter, in denying his Lord and Master. Now look inward a little: you pretend, perhaps, to be mortified persons; and why?" Oh! not any one sin, besides common failings, hath broken from me so long time." Hath there not? Tell me; were not temptations wanting, to provoke and draw out thy corruptions? were not opportunities wanting, to let out thy corruptions? If they were, this thy not sinning proceeds not from a mortified heart, but from a negligent devil, or a gracious God. That man gets a good opinion of himself at too easy a rate, who thinks himself mortified for not sinning when he is not tempted.
(3) It may be imputed to a powerful restraint, laid upon the eruptions of lust.
This hinders them from breaking out into act; but, yet, this doth not mortify nor weaken them. I do not now speak of that almighty restraint, that God, in his ordinary providence, lays upon the lusts of men; by which, indeed, he mortifies them, even as he mortified Jeroboam's hand, which he stretched out against the Prophet, by taking the power of sinning from them: but of that restraint, which men themselves lay upon their lusts, who yet are altogether ignorant of and unexperienced in the spiritualness of this duty of mortification. Men may lay a check and curb upon their lusts: that whereas formerly they let themselves loose unto all manner of profaneness and impiety; they may now relinquish that excess of not, and bind their corruptions within a narrower pale and compass, and thereby appear both to themselves and others to be much mortified and changed Christians.
This Restraint may proceed from a Twofold cause.
[l] From gross Hypocrisy and deep Dissimulation, for secular ends and advantages, with which the extravagancy of wickedness possibly would not consist.
And, truly, we may justly fear, that much of that'seeming' mortification, which is among professors, stands only upon this bottom. Certainly, that' sinful liberty, which they allow themselves where it is not prejudicial to their worldly interests, is a very sad ground to suspect all other restraints that they impose upon themselves, to be from no higher a principle, than compliance with the genius and current of the times. Such men's cursed hypocrisy shall, in hell, bear the punishment of all those sins, that itself hindered from being committed: that is all the reward it shall have.
 This restraint may, likewise, proceed from the strength of Convictions, and the terrors of a Natural Conscience.
Wicked men, many times, dare not commit those sins, which yet notwithstanding their hearts and affections are bent upon: should they, conscience would hurl firebrands in their faces, and haunt them with fearful threatenings and outcries. And some there are, who, without question, do stand in as much dread of an enraged conscience, as they do of hell itself. This keeps men in some awe and order, that they dare not commit sin, with so much impudence and greediness, as otherwise they would do; but, yet, this amounts not to a true mortification: this all proceeds from the power of conscience, forcibly reigning in corrupt nature; not from the power of grace, changing that nature. As it is with wild beasts kept up in a grate, they cannot ravin after their prey; but, still, their natures are ravenous :«so it is with conscience: it many times coops up men, that they cannot ravin after their lusts, as were they free from such a restraint they would; but. still, their natures continue unsanctified, their sins unmortified, and their affections, desires, and delights eager after them, though they dare not commit them; yea and, possibly, (which is the usual effect of a forcible restraint) by so much the more violent, by how much the more debarred from *hem.
This is the Third thing.
4. The relinquishment and forsaking of a sin, is not an evidence of a true mortification.
I do not here mean only such a temporary forsaking of sin as theirs was in 2 Pet. ii. 20, who, having escaped the pollutions of the world, through lust, were again entangled: certain it is, that these men's corruptions were but for a time dissembled, and never mortified. But I take it for a perpetual relinquishment and an utter divorce, so that the soul never again returns to the commission of it, or at least not with any proportionable frequency and delight. Yet this forsaking of sin, may be without the mortification of it.
Take this, in Two cases.
(1) When men do change and barter their sins, then there is a forsaking of sin, but no mortifying of it.
Multitudes of lusts lie crowded together in the soul, and each of these must have its alternate reign; and, therefore, when one hath for a while swayed and been the master-lust, it gives place to another, and that to another, till the sinner hath run through the bead-roll of them. And, therefore, the Apostle, Tit. iii. 3. speaks of serving divers lusts and pleasures: divers, in their turns and successions. This deceives many: they find an old tyrannical lust, that hath kept them under long and laborious thraldom, begin to grow weak and feeble, and hereupon they conclude it is mortified in them; but, alas! they do not observe some other lust reigning in its stead: it doth but give way to make room for another; so that, though the stream of corruption be diverted and turned out of one channel, yet it runs with as full a tide in another. Let not him, who, of a sensual person, is grown a worldling; of a profane person, a hypocrite; think that he hath mortified any one of these lusts. A changed man, indeed, he is; changed from one extreme to another, from sin to sin: but this change is far from mortification.
(2) When a lust rather forsakes the sinner, than he it; then there may be a perpetual separation, where there is no mortification.
There are sins, that are proper and peculiar to such an estate and season of a man's life, upon the alteration of which they vanish and disappear: the sins of youth drop off from declining age, as incongruous and misbecoming: the man doth, as it were, outgrow them. Now if he reflect back, to take a view of the numberless vanities and follies he hath left, how deadened his heart and affections are to those things which before he delighted in, this may possibly make him think himself a very mortified man; when, alas! he hath not so much forsaken his sins, as they him: so long as his natural vigour could relish the temptation, and so long as it comports with his state and condition; so long he served it, and lived in it. Let not such a man deceive himself: though now he hath forsaken it, yet he never mortified it: the sin deserted him, and fell oft of its own accord: this fruit of the flesh was never beaten down by mortification, but, being full ripe, fell off of itself without violence.
That is the Fourth thing.
5. Every victory and conquest gained ova' sin, is not a true mortification of it. •
I doubt not, but many unregenerate persons have yet had eminent successes in opposing their corruptions; so as to hinder them, even when they have been raging and impetuous, from breaking forth, either to the defiling or wounding of their consciences; nay, sometimes so far as sensibly to abate the power and force of them: but all this amounts not to a true mortification.
And that, upon a double account.
(1) Because all such conquests are achieved by principles altogether foreign and extraneous unto grace.
That hath no hand in the work: but natural conscience, acted by slavish fear or some other carnal consideration, manageth all the fights and scuffles, that wicked men maintain against their lusts. And,
(2) Because, though by these victories lust seems to be weakened in its branches, yet it is much strengthened in its root.
If one sin be pulled down, it is that another may be advanced. All the conquests, that wicked men obtain, do not destroy the government, but only change the governors. Nay, indeed, it is only one contrary lust, that fights against the other; and, which soever of them is defeated, yet still the body of sin thrives.
That is the Last thing.
ii. Now, seeing there are so many things like true mortification in the world, it nearly concerns us to beware, lest we be deceived by them ; and so flatter ourselves with a false evidence for life.
To prevent which, it will be necessary, to open to you this great duty of mortification Positively.
And in this, possibly, some useful progress may be made, when these Two things have been searched into. Wherein it doth consist. What things are indispensibly required thereunto.
1. For the first, I take the Nature, of Mortification to consist in these Three things.
In weakening Sin's Root and Principle.
In suppressing its Risings and Motions. And,
In restraining its outward Actings and Eruptions.
It is the First of these, that makes the other two any parts of this true mortification. Let a man oppose himself, all his days, against the workings of corruption within, and the actings of it without; yet, unless the radical power and force of corruption be in some good measure abated, let him not think he hath mortified any one lust. It is a task utterly impossible to kill it, if it be not first wounded at the heart. It were easy to demonstrate the vanity and unsuccessfulness of all endeavours, to mortify these limbs and out-parts of the Old Man, unless his vitals be first perished, and his inward strength decayed.
First. Hereby you can never arrive at any comfortable issue in the work. It is but like beating down leaves from a tree, which will certainly sprout forth again: the root is still remaining in the ground, full of sap and juice; and will supply every