Mortification - Christ speaking the word of peace - Owen

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Puritan Board Senior
From Mortification of Sin, Chapter 13.

Context: Earlier in the chapter Owen calls it a false peace which feels vexed by the consequences of sin, and even deals with the mercy and pardon of God, but only applies it to the extent that he gets relief of conscience, but isn't brought to see and feel that the sin itself is hideous. A peace in the course of mortification of sins that doesn't result in greater hatred of the sin or in humiliation of the sin is suspicious, and such a person has healed themselves, but God has not healed them.

The question then is, how do we know God is speaking peace to us? It's in the paragraph below.

And if anyone would provide more insights on the last few paragraphs--the secret instinct of faith in particular--would be glad for more resources or more insightful comments.

That Christ may be our all....


5. When men of themselves speak peace to their consciences, it is seldom that God speaks humiliation to their souls. God's peace is humbling peace, melting peace, as it was in the case of David; [29] never such deep humiliation as when Nathan brought him the tidings of his pardon.

But you will say, "When may we take the comfort of a promise as our own, in relation to some peculiar wound, for the quieting the heart?"

First, In general, when God speaks it, be it when it will, sooner or later. I told you before, he may do it in the very instant of the sin itself, and that with such irresistible power that the soul must needs receive his mind in it; sometimes he will make us wait longer: but when he speaks, be it sooner or later, be it when we are sinning or repenting, be the condition of our souls what they please, if God speak, he must be received. There is not anything that, in our communion with him, the Lord is more troubled with us for, if I may so say, than our unbelieving fears, that keep us off from receiving that strong consolation which he is so willing to give to us.

But you will say, "We are where we were. When God speaks it, we must receive it, that is true; but how shall we know when he speaks?"

(1.) I would we could all practically come up to this, to receive peace when we are convinced that God speaks it, and that it is our duty to receive it. But, --

(2.) There is, if I may so say, a secret instinct in faith, whereby it knows the voice of Christ when he speaks indeed; as the babe leaped in the womb when the blessed Virgin came to Elisabeth, faith leaps in the heart when Christ indeed draws nigh to it. "My sheep," says Christ, "know my voice," John x. 4; -- "They know my voice; they are used to the sound of it;" and they know when his lips are opened to them and are full of grace. The spouse was in a sad condition, Cant. v. 2, -- asleep in security; but yet as soon as Christ speaks, she cries, "It is the voice of my beloved that speaks!" She knew his voice, and was so acquainted with communion with him, that instantly she discovers him; and so will you also. If you exercise yourselves to acquaintance and communion with him, you will easily discern between his voice and the voice of a stranger. And take this criterion with you: When he does speak, he speaks as never man spake; he speaks with power, and one way or other will make your "hearts burn within you," as he did to the disciples, Luke xxiv. He does it by "putting in his hand at the hole of the door," Cant. v. 4, -- his Spirit into your hearts to seize on you.

He that has his senses exercised to discern good or evil, being increased in judgment and experience by a constant observation of the ways of Christ's intercourse, the manner of the operations of the Spirit, and the effects it usually produces, is the best judge for
himself in this case.

Secondly, If the word of the Lord does good to your souls, he speaks it; if it humble, if it cleanse, and be useful to those ends for which promises are given, -- namely, to endear, to cleanse, to melt and bind to obedience, to self-emptiness, etc. But this is not my business; nor shall I farther divert in the pursuit of this direction. Without the observation of it, sin will have great advantages towards the hardening of the heart.
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