Listening to the Good Shepherd

Carefully regard your Shepherd’s voice. You cannot make the least stray but His whistle is at your ears, and His Word and Spirit beat at your consciences. Now hear His voice, feed only in His pastures, wander not after any pastures besides, though they seem more plentiful or more delightful. My meaning is, keep only in His ways, according to His directions, and do not be withdrawn or wander, through any enticements of sin or the world. Though other pastures seem more pleasant, yet they are full of thorny bushes. You cannot feed long on them, but you are caught and scratched, and shall hardly escape without much loss of your fleece. You may delight for a while in a sinful way, but your consciences will pay for it, and your graces. You cannot return without a great diminution of the one, and a strange vexation of the other; he, who will wander to get some pleasant evil, must necessarily be less good and more troubled. And what defense do you have when you do not hearken to your Shepherd? You are then as the silly sheep alone upon the mountains of Gilead.

Obadiah Sedgwick, The Shepherd of Israel (London, 1658), 15-16.


Law and Grace

[Obedience to God’s will would], they say, be a burden too heavy for Christians! As if we could think of anything more difficult than to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength! Compared with this law, everything ought to be considered easy—whether the requirement to love our enemy or to banish all desire for revenge from our hearts. All these are indeed hard and difficult for our feebleness, even to the least detail of the law [cf. Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:17]. It is the Lord in whom we act virtuously. … To be Christians under the law of grace does not mean to wander unbridled outside the law, but to be engrafted in Christ, by whose grace we are free of the curse of the law, and by whose Spirit we have the law engraved upon our hearts [Jer. 31:33].

—John Calvin
Institutes, 2.8.57.


Slaying Sin is a Duty Always

Mortification of sin is a duty always incumbent on us in the whole course of our obedience. This the command testifieth, which represents it as an always present duty. When it is no longer a duty to grow in grace, it is so not to mortify sin. No man under heaven can at any time say that he is exempted from this command, nor on any pretence; and he who ceaseth from this duty lets go all endeavours after holiness. And as for those who pretend unto an absolute perfection, they are of all persons living the most impudent, nor do they ever in this matter open their mouths but they give themselves the lie.

—John Owen
The Works of John Owen, 3:541.

Excerpts Quotes

Sin is Contrary to Man

Just as there is nothing contrary to God but sin (for devils are not so but by sin), so sin in being contrary to God, is and cannot but be contrary to man.

Inevitably, that must be evil to man, which is evil against God, who is the chiefest good of man. Communion with, and conformity to God is man’s felicity, his heaven upon earth and in heaven too, without which it would not be worth his while to have a being. Now since sin is a separation between God and man, an interruption of this communion and conformity, it must needs be prejudicial and hurtful to him.

Besides, the commandment of which sin is a transgression was given not only for God’s sake, that he might have glory from man’s obedience, but for man’s sake, that man might enjoy the good and benefit of his obedience, and find that in keeping the commands of God there is great reward.

—Ralph Venning,
The Sinfulness of Sin, 37.


Disciples Obey

Our holiness is our conformity and obedience to the will of God.

God rejects any attempt at holiness which is resolved only into the doctrines or precepts of men (Isa 29:13, 14). So for men to pretend to possess or exercise a holiness, from a principle within, without respect unto the commands of God without, as given in his word, is to make themselves their own god, and to despise obedience unto him who is over all, God blessed for ever.

Then are we the servants of God, then are we the disciples of Christ, when we do what is commanded us, and because it is commanded us in Holy Scripture.

—John Owen
Adapted from The Works of John Owen, 3:605.

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