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they have a reference only to our well-being or satisfaction, in the present state.
The spirit on the other hand, as the object of the mind's exercise, runs parallel with the other phrase, of the things above; that is, a happiness as immortal as our souls, and all those things which have a relation to it. The bent of a good man's heart, is toward heaven, as his complete felicity; and to all those things by the way, which conduce to his final happiness: all those graces and duties here, which either in the nature of the thing, or by the constitution of God, are the necessary means and qualifications for the heavenly blessedness. The scope and end of these is our everlasting welfare, though they are to be pursued and practised by us in time. Thus a divine temper, and disposition conformable to God; a holy course and conversation; an acceptance and use of the Lord Jesus Christ in all his offices; a participation of the blessings of the covenant by the way, which will entitle us to, and prepare us for heaven; and such an acquaintance and communion with God now, as will be a presage of our everlasting enjoyment of him, and a meetness for it: all these things go to make up that object of the mind's employment, which is here called the spirit.
Secondly, I am to consider the different temper of mind toward carnal and spiritual things, which is here made the distinguishing character of one man from another; expressed bv minding the flesh or the spirit.
This word, and the verb pgomre. from which it is derived, and which was used just before, in ver. 5. are of an extensive meaning, sufficient to comprehend all the actions, both of the understanding and will; but ordinarily in scripture, they denote the motions of the will and affections. The verb in one place signifies to think or judge. So in Acts xxviii. 22. "We desire to hear of thee, what thou thinkest;" or what thy judgment is in the matter. At other times it means to relish, or have an affection for a thing. Matth. xvi. 23. "Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." And Rom. xii. 16. "Mind not high things affect them not, desire them not. Or, to give preference to one thing before another, to pay it a distinguishing regard. So the sense of the word is justly, expressed by our translation, in Rom. xiv. 6. "He that regardeth a day, regardeth it to the Lord," that is, He who regards one day ahove another, so as to observe it in a manner in which he does not observe other days, makes such a distinction out of a conscientious regard to a supposed divine authority in the case. Sometimes the term denotes care and concern, and an application of thought, and eiuleavour suitable to it. So Phil, iv. 10. "I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last, your care of me hath flourished again that you have made your care and concern for me, to be conspicuous in its proper fruits.
I have taken notice of these several uses of the word in scripture, because I think they are proper to be laid together in the present case, and so will fitly describe the temper of the mind in the full compass, in which the apostle would represent it to us.
But because he makes this temper of the mind towards the things of the flesh and of the spirit, opposite characters of men, it may be fit to observe a few things beforehand.
1. There is a regard to our outward interests, as well as to those which are spiritual, which is not only lawful, but required of us in the present state. God does not command us to lay aside all affection to present good, or to use no care and pains about the welfare of our bodies. Though some precepts in scripture, for minding the interests of our souls, may appear at first sight, to exclude all concern for our bodies; yet it is certain, they are not to be understood absolutely, but in a comparative sense. Such as, Col. iii. 2. "Set your affection on tlnngs above, not on things on the earth," Mat. vi. 05. "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye' shall drink:" and ver. 19, 20. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth :—but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven," John vi. 27. "Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life." While we are 'in the body, God expects our regular care of it; he commands all to be diligent in their worldly business; and as he has given us all things richly to enjoy, allows our moderate and thankful use of them. All minding of the flesh, is not unworthy of those
'who are spiritually minded.
2. There is too much of a sinful minding of the flesh, by
all good men in this imperfect state : which yet is not inconsistent with having the other justly made their denominating character. The best men find reason too often to complain of the remains of a carnal mind. St Paul himself, saw occasion for this in the seventh chapter of this epistle, where I think he speaks of himself when actually renewed, ver. 18. “In me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing,” ver. 19. “The good that I would, I do not; but the evil that I would not, that do I,” that is, this is too often my case, ver. 23. “I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members.” This drew out the lively complaint in the following verse; “O
wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the
body of this death !” Good men in all ages, who have been acquainted with their own hearts, have often joined with the apostle in the same mournful cry. 3. These characters belong to men therefore, not as if they were perfectly, and entirely either the one or the other; but according to that temper which prevails and has the ascendant. Persons may be carnally minded, and yet sometimes think of better things, form some desires after them, and take some pains about them. And on the other hand, men may in a gospel-sense be spiritually minded, and yet not have their disorderly appetites and affections entirely mortified. Prevalence is the great inquiry we are concerned to make ; upon that the character of our state depends. And yet it must be remembered, that it will be unavoidable, that by how much the more strength the carnal mind hath, the more frequent and impetuous its actings are, and the less it is mortified; so much the more doubtful in proportion must our judgment be about our state, or which of these characters really belongs to us. And therefore it is necessary for our comfort, as well as it is our duty to see, that the bias the right way, become every day stronger. Having premised these remarks, I would endeavour to shew, how the pevailing temper of the mind, towards the flesh, or spirit, will express itself. 1. We are to consider this matter in the deliberate judgment and choice of the soul, with reference to the one or the other.
The end men chiefly propose to themselves, has an influence
upon all the other spiritual distinctions which can be between them. That man is carnally-minded, who centers in any thing for his happiness short of God, the chief good: but he is spiritually minded, the language of whose heart is, "The Lord is my portion." The interests of the body and of the soul, of this and of another world, cannot have an equal share in the esteem of any man, but one of them must have the preference. "No man can serve two masters" with equal zeal; or pursue these two ends, which are so vastly different, as things equally worth his care. The ruling judgment in a carnal mind, is in favour cf this world, whatever spiritual notions may be in his head, or light in his conscience. But a spiritual mind, upon a serious balancing of matters, is fully convinced of the reality and worth of spiritual and eternal blessings, above all worldly good. He is sensible, that earthly things which are often leaving us, and which we must soon entirely leave, cannot be a portion for an immortal spirit; but that an endless happiness is set in his view; which is every way suited to his most raised desires; and therefore he judges, that this deserves an unspeakable preference. He esteems heaven a better country than this, and God the best portion, and Christ and holiness, the only way to come at the enjoyment of God for ever; and therefore is determined at any rate to make sure of these.
L2. The temper of the mind is discovered in the more fixed employment of the thoughts. That which we fix upon for our great business, will be very frequently present to our thoughts. A carnal mind has his thoughts most turned according to Ins bias; when better thoughts occur to him, they are rather forced upon him than chosen, or intended rather for speculation than practical improvement. The spiritual mind will set itself frequently and seriously to meditate on spiritual things; to make God present to the mind; to ruminate on the excellency, the grace, and the work of a Redeemer, on the glorious employments and entertainments of the heavenly world, on the several branches of his duty, and the state of his soul. He loves to have his thoughts exercised upon such deserving subjects, and cannot be content to have them entirely taken up with the world. He will appropriate some time, as far as his circumstances will admit, on purpose for holy medi, tation: "Through desire he separates himself, and seeks and intermeddles with this wisdom," Prov. xviii. 1. Even in the midst of worldly business, he will find opportunities to mix some serious thoughts; to lift up his heart to God in an ejaculation, when he has not leisure to pursue a train of thoughts. He is jealous, lest vain and worldly thoughts should gain too firm a possession, or give his mind too deep a tincture; and therefore will have times to recollect himself. This may be expected from such a man ordinarily on every day more or less; and especially that he will gladly improve the greater leisure of the Lord's day to clear his mind of vain thoughts, and employ it fixedly in those of the best tendency.
3. It will appear in the bent of the heart and affections, either to carnal or spiritual things; whether "we savour most the things of God, or the things of men," Matt. xyi. 23. Whether we "set our affections most on things above, or on things below," Col. iii. 2. In both which places the Greek word is the same with that in the text. The current of desire runs strongest in the carnal mind towards some worldly good or other; while the Psalmist speaks the very soul of the spiritual mind, Psalm xxiii. '25. "Whom have I in heaven, but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee." The delight and joy of those who are addicted to the flesh, is in the increase of corn, and wine, and such things: but the delight of the other is much more in the light of God's countenance, Psal. iv. 6, 7- The one rejoices, if the body prospers and is in health; the other mainly upon evidence of the prosperity of his soul. Ho who minds the flesh, fears nothing so much as worldly exercises, or the loss of outward comforts: but he who minds the spirit, is most apprehensive of sin against God, and God's displeasure for sin. The one is most sensibly struck with sorrow and concern when he meets with afflictions and trials, which are grievous to the flesh: the other, when he is conscious that he hath offended God, wounded his own conscience, lost ground in his holy course, given way to temptation, and done something which tends to separate between God and him. When the carnally minded are necessitated to make some reflections on their past sins, they fasten only on those which are gross and generally hateful ; and they are most affected with the shame, or censure, or other temporal inconvenience that they suffer by them: but the spiritually minded are truly sorry for every known sin