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ON MAN'S NATIVE OPPOSITION OF HEART, TO THE SUPREME BEING.
ROMANS VIII. 7.
The carnal mind is enmity against God.
THAT mankind may be brought to a
compliance with the proposals and terms of the gospel, a deep conviction of sin, as well as misery, is altogether necessary. In vain are any called upon to repent, or receive an offered Saviour, before they are sensible that they are sinners. In vain do we persuade men to be reconciled to God, as long as they see not that they are in a state of irreconciliation.
Many have little apprehension of the evil of their ways: when, therefore, the gospel is preached to them, they make light of it, and pay little attention to it. Others, though they have some conviction of their external sins, and feel some concern what they shall do to be saved; yet perceive not the desperate wickedness of their hearts, and hence their hurt is healed slightly, by a superficial amendment. In order to a true repentance and turning to God, a sinner must know, as Solomon expresses it," the plague of his own heart." Nor is a conviction of one's
total want of true holiness, all that is necessary to answer every important purpose. It is said, "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil;" and perceiving this, as well as that in it there dwelleth no good thing, is useful, if not absolutely requisite, that a sinner may have a proper sense of his need of gospel grace.
The apostle, in the words now to be insisted on, asserts the extreme positive wickedness of the heart of fallen man, in very strong and striking terms. In discoursing upon this subject, it is proposed to show:
I. What we are here to understand by the carnal mind.
II. What is meant by its being enmity against God.
III. What other evidence we have that it is really so: and,
IV. What is the cause of this enmity; or how it can rationally be accounted for.
By the carnal mind, I conceive, the apostle means, the mind of the natural man: the mind which all men are of, until, in the language of our Saviour, they are born again. The word carnal, it is true, signifies the same as fleshly. Carnal is opposed to spiritual, as flesh is opposed to spirit. And by the word flesh, when applied to man, we sometimes mean the body, in distinction from the soul. Whence, perhaps, some might be ready to think, that by the carnal mind, is most naturally to be understood, a mind that is uncommonly under the dominion of bodily appetites. The mind of a glutton, a drunkard, or of one abandoned to lewdness. But from the frequent use of similar phrases and expressions in scripture, and even from the passage in connection with our text itself, it may well be
concluded, that nothing more worse is here meant, than the mind of every unregenerate sinner. By the flesh, in the New-Testament, is very frequently intended, the whole man, as he is by natural generation. Our Saviour, having observed to Nicodemus, that, " Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;" to explain himslf, and to give the reason of the necessity of this second birth, he says, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." And all sorts of sins are called works of the flesh. "Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, and heresies, are so called, Gal. v. 20, as well as drunkenness and uncleanness. By the flesh, in these places, must necessarily be understood, "the old man which is corrupt;" and by the spirit, "the new man, which is created after God in righteousness and true holiness." In the same manner the words flesh and spirit, carnal and spiritual, are evidently used in the context, both before our text and after it. The apostle had said, ver. 1," There is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." And ver. 5, 6, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the spirit the things of the spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." He then adds, ver. 7, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." And he goes on to say, ver. 8, 9, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." He is manifestly describing the essential difference, in temper and state, between the regenerate and the unregenerate; and it is plain from the whole passage, that by the carnal mind is meant, the mind of the natural man-the mind of all the sons and daughters of Adam, except such as have been
"saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
II. What we are to understand by the carnal mind's being enmity against God, is next to be explained.
I suppose the apostle means by this, that the heart of an unregenerate sinner, is utterly opposed to the holy nature and ways, of the Creator and Lord of all. More particularly,
1. This enmity of the carnal mind against God implies, the reverse of a love of complacency in him. This is a truth, at least, plainly taught in scripture, and which many have known, respecting themselves, by experience. Concerning the hypocrite, Job says, "Will he delight himself in the Almighty ?" which question strongly imports the certainty that he will not; and that none but the sincere saint will do this. Good men take delight in contemplating the perfections and Providence of God. They rejoice that "the Lord reigneth ;" and that he is infinitely just and wise, as well as good and merciful. But with the wicked-with all the unrenewed, it is quite the reverse. They hate to think of the holiness and justice, the omniscience and omnipotence, of the Supreme Being. If they believe these his attributes, and his righteous, universal Providence, they take no delight in that belief; but it excites in them displeasure and uneasiness.
2. This enmity of the carnal mind against God implies, and most directly means, the reverse of a love of benevolence towards him. Wicked men are not the hearty friends of God; but are enemies to him in their minds. We may dislike those to whom we are not enemies. Enmity is something more than dislike. It is that kind of hatred which is known by the name of ill will: and it is he that hateth his