12.29.2009

The MORTIFIED CHRISTIAN by Christopher LOVE (1618-1651)

In 1656 John Owen published his great treatise Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers. This volume has been one of my favorites. It provides so much sound instruction and Biblical wisdom in how to kill the deeds of the body that every Christian would do well to read carefully the entire volume. I summarized Owen's NINE WAYS OF MORTIFICATION here.

The other day, however, I picked up a little volume in my study by Christopher Love called The Mortified Christian. I noticed that the publication date was 1654, thus preceding Owen's great work by two years. It is strikingly similar to Owen's work, and, at some points, much easier to read. I believe the volume was reprinted only once (Soli Deo Gloria 1998) since it was originally published in 1654. Already, the volume has become scarce, and Amazon has only a few copies, each of which run well into the hundreds.

Love's treatise is based on Romans 8:13, For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

For your benefit, here are some selected portions of Love's Nine Rules for those who have unmortified sin. Do spend some time reflecting on these rules, I promise they are well worth your time.

Rule 1: Count not the restraining of sin from coming into action to be a real mortifying of sin. Restraining grace is not mortifying grace...A man may for a time lay a curb and restraint upon his lusts, so that they do not come forth into action, even without the powers of mortifying grace.

Rule 2: A listlessness [indifference, lethargy] toward any kind of sin is no infallible demonstration that such a sin is mortified...[Listlessness] may proceed likewise from horror and terror of conscience. When this seized upon a man in whose face God casts the flashes of hellfire, this may make him abstain from sin for a time while the horror lies upon him. As a thundering storm sours the beer in our cellars, so, when God thunders upon the conscience, it will sour and embitter sin to a man so that he has no desires after it for the present. Yet, this is not mortifying grace upon the heart, but the horror of conscience that gnaws and grips and terrifies the man, and makes him listless after sin at such a time...Another external cause of a man's listnessless to some sins may be his natural temper. For, though every man has sin in him seminally, yet there are some sin which by nature he is more inclined to than others, according to his constitution.

Rule 3: Let mortification be extended to inward and secret sins as well as to outward and scandalous sins. Not only the lusts of the flesh, but those of the mind are to be mortified; not only the deeds of the body, but the thoughts of the heart and corruptions in the inward man are to be subdued...You must mortify the very first motions and secret propensities to any sin in your hearts.

Rule 4: Let mortification be especially directed to strike at those sins that are your master sins--that are most prevalent and predominant in your heart, that you have most prayed against and are least able to resist, that strongly assault you and most easily beset you and are master over you...So I say to you, fight not so much against any sin as against your beloved, darling, constitutional sins that most easily beset you and prevail over you.

Rule 5: Think not to compass this great work of mortification by a general, superficial sight of sin, unless you come to a distinct and particular apprehension of your sins...if you take sin apart and labor to have a distinct view and sight of each one, this is the way to overcome and mortify sin. If you shoot at random, you will never hit the mark. So, if you look at sins in general, in the lump, you will never be able to mortify them.

Rule 6: Let your mortification extend not only to particular acts of sin, but to the whole bulk and body of sin. It is a great fault among many Christian that if they are troubled with passions, they go about to mortify them while forgetting their other sins..whenever you go about to mortify any one particular lust, you should labor to bewail the whole body of sin that is in you and to strike at the very root of sin...if you do not pull up sin by the root, the other sins will but make your corruptions rage all the more.

Rule 7: When you are setting upon the work of mortification, go about it in the strength of Christ and not in your own strength...you may commit sin by your own strength, but you cannot mortify sin by your own strength. Only an arrow fetched from Christ's quiver can slay your lusts. Do no encounter sin with confidence in your own strength, for you are but a feather before a whirlwind.

Rule 8: Take heed of suffering sin to remain long in your heart without control, but labor to mortify it in its very first motions. When your nature first begins to close with a sin, then labor to root it out; for it's easier to keep sin out of our souls than it is to drive out sin once it has gotten into our hearts. Sin is like a serpent, which, if he can but get his head into any place, he will soon wind in his whole body...Sin is like the overflowing of a mighty river: once the water has made a breach in the bank, if it is not presently stopped, it will soon overflow the whole meadow. If we let sin alone in its first motions, it will quickly overrun the whole man.

Rule 9: When you have, through the strength of Christ, mortified one sin or resisted one temptation, do not sit down and think your work is done, but expect another combat. Your corruption will come afresh upon you again...Though you have cut off one lust today, it may be that another will spring out tomorrow.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Chris -

    Thanks for posting this. Christopher Love is one of my favorites, along with Owen, Watson and Flavel. This is one of the two works of his that are printed that I do NOT have, unfortunately. :( I wish SDG had seen fit to continue with their collected works of Love, but according to Don Kistler, they had such a hard time selling volume 1 that they quit, and only printed a few small volumes like this one. Too bad, too. Alas, at the going price I'll probably never come up with sufficient $ for this work :( But, again, thanks for posting :)

    Todd

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  2. Hi Todd, thanks for the comments, this volume is really good. BTW, since you were so kind to post on my blog, I think I might have a gift for you. I buy, sell, and trade all kinds of Reformed books. I actually have a few of these in my vault. Send me your address via my email.

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  3. As the ancient Jedi Master might have said in response to similar generosity... "Pastor Gordon, too kind, too kind you are!"

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  4. Todd, I hope to see you again in Lynden soon! My kindness is a bit conditional though, I tend to really like that Pedlar family.

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  5. Just an FYI - my pastor recommended this volume to me yesterday. The only place I could find it besides and arm and a leg at Amazon, what at goodtheology.com

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