The foundation of the whole ensuing discourse laid in Rom 8:13
— The words of the apostle opened — The certain connection between true
mortification and salvation — Mortification the work of believers — The
Spirit the principal efficient cause of it — What meant by “the body”
in the words of the apostle — What by “the deeds of the body” —
Life, in what sense promised to this duty.

THAT what I have of direction to contribute to the carrying on of the work of mortification
in believers may receive order and perspicuity[0], I shall lay the foundation of it
in those words of the apostle, Rom 8:13,

“If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live;”

and reduce the whole[1] to an improvement of the great evangelical
truth and mystery contained in them.

The apostle having made a recapitulation of his doctrine of justification by faith,
and the blessed estate and condition of them who are made by grace partakers thereof,
verses 1-3[i] of this chapter,
proceeds to improve it to the holiness and consolation of believers.

Among his arguments and motives unto holiness, the verse mentioned containeth one
from the contrary events and effects of holiness and sin: “If ye live after
the flesh, ye shall die.” What it is to “live after the flesh,” and
what it is to “die,” that being not my present aim and business, I shall
no otherwise explain than as they will fall in with the sense of the latter words
of the verse, as before proposed.

In the words peculiarly designed for the foundation of the ensuing discourse, there
is, —

First, A duty prescribed: “Mortify the deeds
of the body.”

Secondly, The persons are denoted to whom it
is prescribed: “Ye,” — “if ye mortify.”

Thirdly, There is in them a promise annexed to
that duty: “Ye shall live.”

Fourthly, The cause or means of the performance
of this duty, — the Spirit: “If ye through the Spirit.”

Fifthly, The conditionality of the whole proposition,
wherein duty, means, and promise are contained: “If ye,” etc.

The first thing occurring in the words as they lie in the entire proposition
is the conditional note, Εἰ
; “But if.” Conditionals in such propositions
may denote two things —

(1.1) The uncertainty
of the event or thing promised, in respect of them
to whom the duty is prescribed[3]. And this takes place where the
condition is absolutely necessary unto the issue, and depends not itself on any
determinate cause known to him to whom it is prescribed[4]. So
we say, “If we live, we will do such a thing.” This cannot be the intendment
of the conditional expression in this place. Of the persons to whom these words
are spoken, it is said, verse 1 of the same chapter, “There is no condemnation
to them.”[5]

(1.2) The certainty
of the coherence and connection that is between
the things spoken of; as we say to a sick man, “If you will take such a potion,
or use such a remedy, you will be well.”[6] The thing we
solely intend to express is the certainty of the connection that is between the
potion or remedy and health. And this is the use of it here. The certain connection
that is between the mortifying of the deeds of the body
and living is intimated in this conditional particle.

Now, the connection and coherence of things being manifold, as of cause and effect,
of way and means and the end, this between mortification and life is not of cause
and effect properly and strictly, for “eternal life is the gift of God through
Jesus Christ,” Rom 6:23, — but of means
and end. God hath appointed this means for the attaining that end, which he hath
freely promised. Means, though necessary, have a fair subordination to an end of
free promise. A gift, and procuring cause in him to whom it is given[7],
are inconsistent. The intendment, then, of this proposition as conditional is, that
there is a certain infallible connection and coherence between true mortification
and eternal life: if you use this means, you shall obtain that end; if you do mortify,
you shall live. And herein lies the main motive unto and enforcement of the duty

2. The next thing we meet withal in the words is the persons
to whom this duty is prescribed, and that is expressed in the word “Ye,”
in the original included in the verb, Θανατο
τε “if ye mortify;” — that
is, ye believers; ye to whom “there is no condemnation,” verse 1; ye that
are “not in the flesh, but in the Spirit,” verse 9; who are “quickened
by the Spirit of Christ,” verses 10, 11; to you is this duty prescribed. The
pressing of this duty immediately on any other is a notable fruit of that superstition
and self-righteousness that the world is full of, — the great work and design
of devout men ignorant of the gospel, Rom 10:3,4[ii]; John 15:5[iii]. Now, this description
of the persons, in conjunction with the prescription of the duty, is the main foundation
of the ensuing discourse, as it lies in this thesis or proposition: —

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.

principal efficient cause of the performance of this
duty is the Spirit: Εἰ
— “If by the Spirit.” The Spirit here is the Spirit mentioned verse
11[iv], the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit
of God, that “dwells in us,” verse 9[v],
that “quickens us,” verse 11; “the
Holy Ghost,” verse 14[vi] ;[10]
the “Spirit of adoption,” verse 15[vii];
the Spirit “that maketh intercession for us,” verse
All other ways of mortification are vain, all helps leave us helpless; it must be
done by the Spirit. Men, as the apostle intimates, Rom 9:30-32[ix],
may attempt this work on other principles, by means and advantages administered
on other accounts, as they always have done, and do: but, saith he, “This is
the work of the Spirit; by him alone is it to be wrought, and by no other power
is it to be brought about.” 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. And this is a second principle of
my ensuing discourse.[11]

The duty itself, “Mortify the deeds of the body,”
is nextly to be remarked.

Three things are here to be inquired into: —

(4.1) What is meant by the

(4.2) What by the deeds of the body;

(4.3) What by mortifying
of them.

(4.1) The body
in the close of the verse is the same with the flesh
in the beginning: “If ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye…. mortify
the deeds of the body,” — that is, of the flesh. It is that which the
apostle hath all along discoursed of under the name of the flesh;
which is evident from the prosecution of the antithesis between the Spirit
and the flesh, before and after. The body, then, here
is taken for that corruption and depravity of our natures whereof the body, in a
great part, is the seat and instrument, the very members of the body being made
servants unto unrighteousness thereby, Rom 6:19[x].
It is indwelling sin, the corrupted flesh or lust, that is intended. Many reasons
might be given of this metonymical[13]
expression, that I shall not now insist on. The “body” here is the same
with παλαιὸςνθρωπος, and σῶμα
τῆς ἁμαρτίας,
the “old man,” and the “body of sin,” Rom
or it may synecdochically[14] express the whole person considered
as corrupted, and the seat of lusts and distempered affections.[15]

(4.2) The deeds of the body.
The word is πράξις,
which, indeed, denoteth the outward actions chiefly, “the works of the flesh,”
as they are called, τὰ
Gal 5:19
which are there said to be “manifest,” and are enumerated. Now, though
the outward deeds are here only expressed, yet the inward and next causes are chiefly
intended; the “axe is to be laid to the root of the tree,” — the
deeds of the flesh are to be mortified in their causes, from whence they spring.
The apostle calls them deeds, as that which every lust
tends unto; though it do but conceive and prove abortive, it aims to bring forth
a perfect sin.[16]

Having, both in the seventh and the beginning of this chapter[17],
treated of indwelling lust and sin as the fountain and principle of all sinful actions,
he here mentions its destruction under the name of the effects[18] which
it doth produce. Πράξεις
τοῦ σώματος[19]
are, as much as φρόνημα
τῆς σαρκός[20],
Rom 8:6[xiii], the “wisdom
of the flesh,” by a metonymy of the same nature with the former[21];
or as the παθήματα[22]
and ἐπιθυμίαι[23],
the “passions and lusts of the flesh,” Gal 5:24[xiv]
whence the deeds and fruits of it do arise; and in this sense is
the body
used, Rom 8:10: “The body
is dead because of sin.”

(4.3) To mortify.
Εἰ θανατοῦτε,
— “If ye put to death;” a metaphorical expression, taken from the
putting of any living thing to death. To kill a man, or any other living thing,
is to take away the principle of all his strength, vigor, and power, so that he
cannot act or exert, or put forth any proper actings of his own; so it is in this
case. Indwelling sin is compared to a person, a living person, called “the
old man,” with his faculties, and properties, his wisdom, craft, subtlety,
strength; this, says the apostle, must be killed, put to death, mortified, —
that is, have its power, life, vigor, and strength, to produce its effects, taken
away by the Spirit. It is, indeed, meritoriously, and by way of example, utterly
mortified and slain by the cross of Christ; and the “old man” is thence
said to be “crucified with Christ,” Rom 6:6[xv],
and ourselves to be “dead” with him, verse 8[xvi],
and really initially in regeneration, Rom 6:3-5[xvii],
when a principle contrary to it, and destructive of it, Gal
is planted in our hearts; but the whole work is by degrees to be carried on towards
perfection all our days.[25]
Of this more in the process of our discourse. The intendment of the apostle in this
prescription of the duty mentioned is, — that the mortification
of indwelling sin remaining in our mortal bodies, that it may not have life and
power to bring forth the works or deeds of the flesh is the constant duty of believers.

The promise unto this duty is life: “Ye shall
live.” The life promised is opposed to the death threatened in the clause foregoing,
“If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die;” which the same apostle expresseth,
“Ye shall of the flesh reap corruption,” Gal 6:8,
or destruction from God.
Now, perhaps the word may not only intend eternal life, but also the spiritual
life in Christ, which here we have; not as to the essence and being of it, which
is already enjoyed by believers, but as to the joy, comfort, and vigor of it: as
the apostle says in another case, “Now I live, if ye stand fast,” 1 Thess 3:8; — “Now my life will do me good;
I shall have joy and comfort with my life;” — “Ye shall live, lead
a good, vigorous, comfortable, spiritual life whilst you are here, and obtain eternal
life hereafter.”

Supposing what was said before of the connection between mortification and eternal
life, as of means and end, I shall add only, as a second motive to the duty prescribed,
that, —

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