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their minds, do mind the things of the Spirit. But he adds, "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Now, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." In these passages, taken together, we have first the origin of our spiritual life-the Spirit of God dwelling in us; then the effect of it-minding the things of the Spirit; and the issue of it-life and peace. Let this be compared with the issue, the effect, and the origin of the condition which is termed carnal; and we shall find that the expression is evidently intended to describe the state in which men are by nature, without the renewal of the Holy Spirit; in which they live in sin; and in which if they die, they inherit eternal death.
The same opposition of the flesh to the Spirit is found in our Lord's discourse to Nicodemus and in the same sense: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." The agency of the Spirit of God upon the soul, in order to qualify it for the kingdom of God, is here expressly asserted; and the state of a person living under this Divine influence is termed "spirit." "That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit." The flesh, therefore, which is put in opposition to this, must signify the state of man without the agency of the Holy Spirit. And this is not peculiar to a few who are more than ordinarily sinful: it is not the effect of confirmed habits or a long course of sin, but is inherent in the very constitution of man: for "as that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, so that which is born of the flesh is flesh."
I will add another passage, in which the same terms are opposed to each other, and evidently in the same sense. In Galatians, v. 16, it is said, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." Here the flesh is represented as a corrupt principle within us, naturally lusting after that which is evil: but this is more fully expressed in the following words:
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and they are contrary the one to the other." What could have been said more plainly to shew, that when the Apostle speaks of the flesh, as opposed to the Spirit, he means something evil in the nature of man. which resists and counteracts what is excellent and holy; the laws of God, for instance, and the motions of his good Spirit in the heart? And, would we know more particularly what are these lusts of the flesh, and what the effects of the Spirit's influence; that is, what are the works of a sinful, and what those of a renewed, nature: the Apostle goes on to inform us-"The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
From all these passages, taken collectively, we may have a full view of what the Scriptures intend by the flesh, and the spirit or spiritual mind. We learn from them, that mankind are born in a depraved, sinful, ruined state; that the mind of man in that state is fixed only upon earthly things; that the works natural to him are "wicked works," such as arise from lust, vanity, pride, anger, and selfishness; that in this state he is utterly unfit for the kingdom of God, and incapable of enjoying the spiritual happiness of that kingdom; that "in him, that is, in his flesh, dwelleth no good thing;" but that God has been pleased to send his Holy Spirit into the world to guide, bless, and sanctify those that truly embrace the Gospel of his Son; that from him they receive a spiritual principle, a holy and divine nature; that they "mind the things of the Spirit, put off the old man with his corrupt deeds, and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness;" that thus they become new creatures in Christ Jesus; "old things pass away, behold all things
become new;" that they "crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts," and "walk after the Spirit," bringing forth "the fruits of the Spirit." We learn, in short, that the nature of man, till renewed by the influence of the Holy Spirit, is corrupt, and that it is "enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
1. In what sense, therefore, are we to understand this enmity to God.
1. We are not to suppose, that the unregenerate man is at enmity with God according to the character which he usually forms of him. He commonly thinks of God only as a great, wise, and good Being, and he feels no sentiment of opposition to the attributes of wisdom, greatness, or goodness. Nay, while he considers these as exerted in his behalf, and in that of his fellow-creatures, he may even feel a certain degree of complacency and delight in them. He may rejoice that there is a good and Almighty Being, at the head of the universe, who can and will control the evil which might else break forth without measure, to disturb the harmony and peace of the world. He may look with pleasure upon the glorious works he has made; at the provision he has so richly furnished to supply the wants of man and beast; and at the laws and the providence by which so vast and various a creation is administered and preserved, through all its orders of being, equally in the great and the minute, according to the will and purpose of its Creator. These, he will say, are the works of the great Parent of Good, and manifest his wisdom; all things proclaim his praise, and men ought, above the rest of his creation, to render thanks and adoration to him. Such, I say, may be the views and feelings even of an unregenerate man. And when a person in this state is told, that his mind is naturally at enmity with God, he will perhaps, revolt against the charge, appeal confidently to his own heart for its refutation, and be unable, even after cool and candid reflection, to admit it in any sense as true.
In explaining the meaning of the Apostle's words, therefore, we must be very careful not to confound the real character of God with that which we may have formed of him for ourselves. In the view which sinners usually take of the attributes of God; his supreme authority as the Governor of the world, his infinite purity and holiness as hating, and his justice as avenging, sin, are kept out of sight: a Being is framed in their imagination, very much resembling themselves; a Being who will be merciful and indulgent to sinners; will allow them to live in a great measure as they please, and punish only the sins which would be very injurious to society; yet easily forgiving even these, and ready to bestow eternal happiness upon all his creatures, even upon such as may have been total strangers to the life of purity and holiness which he requires.
2. Further, enmity against the Almighty is not to be considered as a personal enmity, but rather as a dislike of the government which he exercises, and of the laws. which he ordains; those laws particularly which concern ourselves, which restrain us from any course of conduct we are desirous to pursue, or require from us what we feel no disposition to perform;-these are the objects of our dislike: and enmity against them may, be properly said to be enmity against God; for it resists his authority, power, and dominion in the world. Hence in my text, the enmity of the carnal mind is thus explained; "for it is not subject to the law of God." All, therefore, who dislike the purity of God's laws, may be said to dislike him. They would shew even a personal dislike of him, did they clearly see his hand restraining, correcting, punishing what is evil; did they behold the frown with which he observes them when following the inclinations of their carnal mind, and the arm of his vengeance lifted up against perverse and incorrigible sinners.
3. Again, when we say that the unregenerate mind is enmity against God, or in other words "corrupt,' we are not to understand that it is totally destitute of
every thing that is good; that it has not qualities which are in a certain degree commendable: that it is equally addicted to to every species of vice; or that there is no difference in guilt, between the young who are but beginning to act according to their nature, and those whose natural corruption is confirmed and matured by à long habit and indulgence of sin. Nothing is implied, in the doctrine, concerning an equality of guilt or corruption among men. It is sufficient to say, that human nature is corrupt in us all, that there is in all a proneness to sin-a natural tendency to approve and do things which it has pleased God to condemn and forbid, and a natural dislike of many duties which he has thought fit to enjoin. Let man be left entirely to the workings of his own mind, let him be restrained by no fear of punishment, and induced by no hope of reward: and he would invariably follow, not a course of holy obedience to his Maker, as an angel would do from inclination, but a course of selfish and sinful indulgence. God would not be in all his thoughts, nor would the authority of God be the rule of his conduct. He would live, not to him who made him, but wholly to himself— a life after the flesh and after the course of this present world;-would be sensual in his gratifications, or ungovernable in his tempers, proud in his imaginations or ambitious in his pursuits, greedy of gain or sunk in pleasure. In a word, he would be found doing some or other of "the works of the flesh," and be far from bringing forth "the fruits of the Spirit."
III. Then, how far is this corruption of our nature illustrated by what we experience in ourselves, or see in others.
And here let us examine our own hearts, and say, as in the sight of God, what dispositions are natural to them, what tempers and desires are the most congenial to our frame, and strike deepest root in our souls as a soil congenial to them. Shall we, upon the careful review of our lives, perceive that the love of God has been our first and ruling principle, that our