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of resistance, and making every struggle with it hopeless and unavailing? For the answer to this question, we commit you, as before, to the record. He who is in Christ Jesus is a new creature. Sin has no longer dominion over him. That very want which constituted the main violence of the disease, is made up to him. He wanted the love of God; and this love is shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost. He wanted the love of his neighbour ; but God enters into a covenant with him, by which he puts this law in his heart, and writes it in his mind. The spirit is given to them who ask it in faith, and the habitual prayer, of, Support me in the performance of this duty,-or, Carry me in safety through this trial of my heart and of my principles,-is heard with acceptance, and answered with power. The power of Christ is made to rest on those who look to him; and they will find to be their experience what Paul found to be his,—they will be able to do all things through Christ strength. ening them. Now, the question we have to put is,-Tell us, if all this sound strange, and mysterious, and foreign, to the general style of your conceptions ? Then be alarmed for your safety. The things you thus profess to be strange to you, are not the peculiar notions of one man, or the still more peculiar phraseology of another. They are the very notions and the very phraseology, of the Bible--and you, by your antipathy or disregard to them, bring yourselves under precisely the same reckoning with God, that you do with a distant acquaintance, whom you insult by returning his letter unopened, or despise, by suffering it to lie beside you unread and unattended to. In this indelible word of God, you will meet with the free offer of forgiveness for the past, and a provision laid before you, by which all who make use of it, are carried forward to amendment, and progressive virtue for the future. They are open to all, and at the taking of all; but in proportion to the frankness, and freeness, and universality of the offer, will be the severity of that awful threatening to them who despise it. How shall they es. cape, if they neglect so great a salvation ?
THE NATURAL ENMITY OF THE MIND AGAINST GOD.
ROMANS viii. 7.
“The carnal mind is enmity against God."
We should be blinding ourselves against the light of experience, did we deny of many of our acquaintances, that they have either brought into the world, or have acquired, by. a natural process of education, such a gentleness of temper, such a docility, such a taste for the amiable and the kind, such an honourable sense of integrity, such a feeling sympathy for the wants, and misfortunes of others, that it would not be easy, and what is more, we may venture to say, from the example of our Saviour, who, when he looked to the young man, loved him, that it would positively not be right; to withhold from them our admiration and our tenderness. Still it were a violation of all scriptural propriety in language, to say of them that they were not carnal, or not carnally minded. All, by the very signification of the term, are carnal, whose minds either retain their ori. ginal constitution, or have undergone no other transforming process than a mere process of natural education. Some minds are in these circumstances, more agreeable to look upon than others, just as some faces are more agreeable than others, to the eye. Each mind has its own peculiar character, just as each face has its own set of features, and its own complexion. But, as all the varieties in the latter, from exquisite beauty to most revolting deformity, do not exclude from any, the one and universal attribute of decay,--so neither may all the constitutional varieties in the former, from the most sordid to the most natu.
rally upright and amiable, exclude the possession of some one and universal attribute; and it may be the very attribute assigned to nature in the text-even hostility against God.
Let us first offer some remarks on the affirmation of the text, that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and then shortly consider, how it is that the gospel of Jesus Christ suits its appli. cations to this great moral disease.
I. It appears a very presumptuous attempt, on the part of a human interpreter, when the object which he proposes, and which he erects into a separate head of discussion, is to prove the assertion of the text. Should not the very circumstance of its being the assertion of the text, be proof enough for you? On what better foundation can your belief be laid than on the testimony of God? and when we come to understand the mean. ing of the thing testified, is not the bare fact of God being the witness of it, sufficient ground for its credibility to rest upon! Shall man's reasoning carry a greater authority along with it, than God's declaration ? Is your faith to depend on the success or the failure of his argument? Whether he succeed in estab. lishing the truth of the assertion or not, upon independent rea. sonings of his own,---remember that by reading it out in his text, he has already come forward with an argument more con. clusive than any which his ingenuity can devise. And yet, how often do your convictions lie suspended on the ability of the preacher, and on the soundness of his demonstrations? You refuse to believe truth, plainly set before you in the Bible, be. cause the minister has failed in making out his point. Now, the truth of the point in question may have already received its de. cisive settlement, from the text delivered in your hearing. We may try, and take our own way of bringing the truth of your enmity against God, close and home upon your consciences. But, if there be truth in all the sayings of the Bible, enough has been already said, to undermine the security of your fancied attainments. It is said, that in our nature there is a rooted and an embodied character of hostility to our Maker. This should make the wisest and most sufficient among you feel that you are poor indeed.--and let other expedients, to press home the
melancholy truth fail, or be effectual as they may, this is surely enough to convince and to alarm you.
But, though we cannot add to the truth of God, there is such a thing as what the Apostle calls making that truth manifest to your consciences. Your own observation may attest the very same truth, which God announces to you in his word. And if it be a truth, respecting the state of your own heart, this agree. ment between what God says you are, and what you find your. selves to be, is often most powerfully instrumental, in reclaiming men to the acknowledgment of the truth, and bringing their heart under its influence. This is the very argument which compel. led the faith of the woman of Samaria. “ Come and see the man which told me all the things that ever I did ; is not this the Christ ?" It is the very argument, by which many an unbeliever was convinced in the Apostle's days. The secrets of his heart were made manifest, and so falling down on his face, he worshipped God, and reported that God was in them, of a truth. We cannot make the assertion in the text stronger than God has made it already ; but we may be able to guide your observations to that which is the subject of it-even to your own mind. We may lead you to attend more closely, and to view more distinctly, the state of your minds, than you have ever yet done. If your finding of the matter shall agree with God's saying about it, it may make the truth of the text tell with energy upon your consciences;--and it were well for one and all of us, that we obtained a more overwhelming sense of our ne. cessities than we have ever yet gotten; that we saw ourselves in those true colours of deformity which really belong to us ; that the inveteracy of our disease as sinners, were more known and more felt by us ; that we could lift up the mantle of delu. sion, which the accomplishments of nature throw over the car. nal mind, and by which they spread a most bewildering gloss over all the rebelliousness and ingratitude of the inner man. Could we but make you feel your need and your helplessness as sinners-could we chase away from you the pride and the security of your fancied attainments ; could we lead you to mourn and be in heaviness, under a sense of your alienations and idolatries, and risings of hatred against the God, who cre.
ated, and who sustains you ;--then might we look for the over- tures of the gospel being more thankfully listened to, more cordially embraced, more rejoiced in as the alone suitable remedy to the wants and the sorenesses of your fallen nature,—then might we look for the attitude of self-dependence being broken down, and for all trust, and all glorying, being transferred from ourselves, and laid upon Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
It is no proof of love to God that we do many things, and that too with the willing consent of the mind, the performance of which is agreeable to his law. If the same thing might be done upon either of two principles, then the doing of it may only prove the existence of one of these principles, while the other has no presence or operation in the mind whatever. I do not steal, and the reason of it may be either that I love God, and so keep his commandments, or it may be that I have honourable feelings, and would spurn at the disgracefulness of such an ac. tion. This is only one example, but the bare statement of it serves for a thousand more. It lets us in at once to the decisive fact, that there are many principles of action applauded, and held in reverence, and most useful to society, and withal urging us to the performance of what, in the matter of it, is agreeable to the law of God, which may have a practical ascendency over a man whose heart is alienated from the love of God. Propose the question to yourself, Would not I do this good thing, or ab. stain from this evil thing, though God had no will in the matter? If you would, then put not down what is altogether due to other principles to the principle of love to God, or a desire of pleas. ing him. The principle upon which you have acted may be respectable, and honourable, and amiable. We are not disputing all this. We are only saying, that it is not the love of God; and should we hear any one of you assert, that I have nothing to reproach myself with, and that I give every body their own, and that I possess a fair character in society, and have done nothing to forfeit it, and that I have my share of generosity, and honour, and tenderness, and civility, our only reply is, that this may be very true. You may have a very large share of . these, and of other estimable principles, but along with the pos. session of these many things, you may lack one thing, and that