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Israelites in Egypt,, made perpetually to moil in clay. What is all your merchandise, your trades and manufactures, your tillage and husbandry, but all for the body, in its behalf, for food and raiment ? In all these, the mind must be careful and thoughtful, and yet properly they reach it not, for itself hath no interest in them. It is true, the necessity of the bodyrequires much of these things, and superfluous custom far more; but it is lamentable that men force their soul to forget itself and its proper business, to attend to these things only, and be busy in them. They spend all their time and their choicest pains upon perishing things, and, which is worse, engage their affections to them. They mind earthly things, whose end is destruction--the same word that is here.
Will you consider seriously, that your souls run the hazard of perishing, because you consider not their spiritual nature ? When that earthly tabernacle of yours shall fall to the ground, and ere long it must fall, your souls must then enter eternity, and though you had as large a share of earthly things as your earthly hearts now would wish, they will all lose their use in that moment. They are not a proper good for the soul at any time, and least at that time. If you keep it all your life long, busy about the interest and benefit of the flesh, the body, how poor will it be when they part, having provided nothing at all for itself, but the guiltiness of a sinful life, which will sink it into that bottomless pit! Be forewarned then; for to be carnally minded is death.
The carnal mind. Now as sin hath debased and degenerated the soul of man, making it carnal, so the Son of God, by taking on him our nature, hath sublimated it again and made it spiritual. The souls that receive him are spiritualized; yea, as sin made the soul carnal, grace makes the very body to become spiritual, making it partaker and co-worker in spiritual things together with the soul, in doing and suffering; and participant of the hopes too of an everlasting reward. This is the main Cbristian character our apostle gives here, that they are spiritually minded, and that their actions suit their minds: They walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Whereas before, with the rest of the world, they were eager in the pursuit of honors, and profits, and worldly pleasures, the new stream of their desires runs in another channel. They seek after honor, and are very ambitious of it; but it is such honor the apostle speaks of in this Epistle, ii, 7; By patient continuance in well doing they seek for glory, and honor, and immortality. Their mind is upon profit and gain ; but it is with the same apostle, that they may win Christ, and they account all other things loss in comparison. And their desires are after pleasure too, but not carnal pleasures; these are both base, and of short continuance; but the pleasures they aim at, are those that are at God's right hand, and for evermore ; and that path of life which the psalmist speaks of, that way of holiness which leads thither, is their delight. Spiritual exercises they go to, not as their task only, but more as their joy and refreshnient. And this change the Spirit of God works in the soul, making it, yea, and the body wherein it dwells, of carnal, to become spiritual : as fire, to which the Holy Ghost is compared, refines sand and ashes, and makes of them the purest glass, which is so neat and transparent.
Enmity against God. Sin hath not only made us unlike God, by defacing his beautiful image in us, not only strangers, by making us wander far off from him, but enemies ; nor enemies only, but enmity in the abstract ; for that is emphatical, The carnal mind is enmity, nothing else but enmity.
Now this enmity is described in the latter clause of the text, by an antipathy, so to call it, or non-compliance with the law of God; It is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be, while it remains such. There is an absolute impossibility in it, to suit with the law of God, and consequently with God himself. The reason lies in their opposite qualities. God is spiritual and holy, and so is the law, as our apostle bath it in the preceding chapter; and the opposition he there makes betwixt his unregenerate part and the law, is wholly true of the unregenerate
The law is holy, says be, ver. 12, 14, the law is spiritual ; to which too he opposes, But I am carnal, sold under sin.
Where are now those wbo so vilify grace and magnify
nature ? or, shall I rather say, nullify grace, and deify nature? Here is the best eulogy the apostle will bestow upon the best of natures, Enmity against God. Nay, all the sparkles of virtue and moral goodness in civil men and ancient heathens, are no better; besides many other things to be said of the virtues of those philosophers, as, ignorance of Christ, by whom alone this enmity. is removed. I should easily confess, nor, I think, can any deny it, that there is in the very ruins of our nature some character left of a tendency to God as our chief and only satisfying good, which we may call a kind of love, and when we hear him spoken of, we find it flutter and stir ; and hence men so abhor the imputation of hating God and being his enemies ; yet this is so smothered under sensuality and flesh, that until we be made spiritual, nothing appears but practical and, as they call it, interpretative enmity.
There is one thing which stains them enough; they were all, as one of the Fathers speaks, “ animalia gloriæe !" they aimed not, in their study of virtue, at God's glory, but at their own; and is not that quarrel enough, and matter of enmity? Says not be, My glory wil í not give unto another ?
But that is most useful for you, to convince you of the too good conceit which men have of their natural condition. You would take it hardly, the most profane of you all, if any should come to you in particular, and tell you, you are an enemy to God; but I answer, there is none of you, if you believe the scriptures, but will confess that all men are naturally such, and therefore, except we find in ourselves a notable alteration from the condition of nature, we must take with it, that we are enemies, yea, enmity to God. Of strangers, to become acquainted with him, yea, which is more, of enemies to become friends, is a greater and more remarkable change, than can happen to a man without any evidence and sign of it. I know there is very great variety in the way and manner of conversion, and to some, especially if it be in their tender years, grace may be instilled and dropped in, as it were, insensibly; but this I may confidently say, that whatsoever be the way of working it, there will be a wide and apparent difference betwixt friendship with God, and the condition of nature, which is enmity against bim. Do not flatter yourselves. So long as your minds, remain carnal, ardent in love to the world and cold in love to God, lovers of pleasures more than of God, you are his enemies, for with him there is no neutrality. That which they say, taxing it as a weakness in the sex, “Aut amat, aut odit, nihil est tertium,” is in this case necessarily true of all. And this is God's prerogative, that he can judge infallibly of the inside. Those sbadows of friendship men use one with another, will not pass with bim. Deceived he cannot be, but men may easily; and alas.! too many do deceive themselves in this matter to their own ruin.
We niay learn hence, how deep sin goes into our nature, and consequently, that the cure and remedy of it must go as deep; that all the parts of our bodies and all the powers of our souls are polluted originally-our very mind and conscience, as the apostle speaks, for it is immersed in flesh and enslaved to fesh naturally, and therefore goes under its name. We are become all flesh; that is the spring of our mischiefs. We have lost our likeness to our Father, the Father of Spirits, the purest and most spiritual Spirit, till renewed by participation of his Spirit in our flesh.
And it is the error, not only of natural men, but some.what of the godly too, that in self-reformation they set themselves against actual sin, 'but they lay not the axe to the root of the tree, this root of bitterness, this our inbred and natural enmity against God; and till this be done, the lopping off of some branches will do no good : while the root is in vigor, those will grow again, and possibly faster than before. Bewail every known act of sin, as much as you can, for the least of them deserves it; but withal let the consideration of them lead you into thoughts of this seed of rebellion, the wickedness of our nature, that takes life with us in the womb, and springs and grows up with us; and this will humble us exceedingly, and raise our godly sorrow to a higher tide. We find David
taketh this course in the fifty-first psalm, where he is lamenting his particular sin of adultery and murder; it
leads him to the sinfulness of his nature; I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me ; which be mentions, not to extenuate or diminish his sin ; no, he is there very far from that strain, but adds it as a main aggravation. Indeed, the power of original sin in the regenerate is laid very low, yet is it not altogether extinct, which they find often to their grief, and this makes them cry out with our apostle, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death! The converted are already delivered, as he there adds, from the dominion of it, but not from the molestation and trouble of it. Though it is not a quiet and uncontrolled master, as it was before, yet it is in the house still, as an unruly servant or slave, ever vexing and annoying them; and this body of death they shall have still cause to bewail, till death release them. This leprosy hath taken so deep root in the walls of this house, that it cannot perfectly be cleansed till it be taken down ; and it is this, more than any other sorrows or afflictions of life, that makes the godly man not only content to die, but desirous, longing, with our apostle, to be dissolved, and be with Christ, which is far better.
As this teaches us the misery of man's nature, so it sets off and commends exceedingly the riches of God's grace. Are men naturally his enemies ? Why then admire, first, his patience and bounty a little, and then we will speak of his saving grace. Could not he very easily ease himself of his adversaries, as he says by the prophet, Isa. i, 24.? Wants he power in his right hand to find out and cut off all his enemies? Surely no. Not only hath he power to destroy them all in a moment, but the very withdrawing of his hand, that upholds their being, though they consider it not, would make them fall to nothing. Yet is be pleased not only to spare transgressors, but to give them many outward blessings, rain and fruitful seasons, as the apostle speaks. And the earth which is so full of man's rebellion, is yet more full of God's good. ness ; The earth is full of thy goodness, says the psalmist. It is remarkable, that that same reason which is given, Gen. vi, 5, of the justice of God in drowning the world, is, viii, 21, rendered as the reason of God's resolved pas