Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

is capacitated for the most exalted actings and enjoyments, or for the holiness and happiness of a spiritual life. And on the contrary, to be carnally minded is death; because it is opposite to both, and indisposes for both. First, Spiritual mindedness is life; for a man of this temper is disposed to the proper acts of a spiritual life. He is not insensible of spiritual objects; but “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shines into his heart,” 2 Cor. iv. 6. He apprehends the reality, the moment and worth of that which is contained in it. Before, he understood as a child, he thought as a child of these matters, being diverted from a close attention by the poor trifles of a present evil world: but now he puts away childish things. He is sensible of the peculiar wants of the soul itself, and most desirous to have them supplied. His heart breathes after God, and Christ, and holiness, and heaven. He endeavours to know his duty, and applies himself vigorously to the practice of it; and his greatest concern is for his impersection in it, for his acting in any instance contrary to it. His great conflict is against the remains of sin, the snares of life, and the opposition of Satan in his Christian course. This is life; these are indications that a man is spiritually alive, and come to himself, for now he lives unto God. The carnal mind is the reverse of all this. He is under the power of death; having the understanding darkened, and prejudiced against the admission of heavenly light. He is insensible of the wants and interests, of the rectitude and depravity of the soul; or unaffected with these things. He is either wholly, or predominantly, set upon earthly things, and such as tend farther to vitiate and enslave the soul. His mind is shut up against divine instructions and admonitions; and his will opposes the will of God, and exalts itself against the knowledge of him and obedience to him. For the carnal mind is enmily against God, not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be, till it is altered, ver. 8. This is spiritual death ; a governing temper of soul, which bespeaks it dead to all true goodness. Secondly, Spiritual mindedness is life; because a man of this disposition is fitted for the enjoyments and happiness of the spiritual life. The soul has peculiar pleasures of its own, independent on the body; and they are the most sublime, and

excellent and satisfying of all others, of which we are capable. These pleasures of the soul result from the sense of God's favour; from the apprehension of the pardon of sin, and the hope of immortal blessedness; from a consciousness of the regularity of its own actings, and of victory gained over disorderly appetites and affections and passions; from the approbation of his own mind upon serious examination and reflection; from the pleasure of doing good, of honouring God, and of serving a man's generation; from the joyful sense of the light of God's countenance, and of communion with him in holy meditation, and in the various exercises of religion. Such things as these are the justest entertainments of the soul: and he who is spiritually minded, seeks chiefly after these; and has a principal relish and delight in these, when he can perceive them: and in proportion to the degree of his renovation, he is fitted for them, and has his share in them at present. This is life indeed. "A good man is thus satisfied from himself," Prov. iv. 14. While "a stranger intermeddles not with his joy," ver. 10.

But a man under the power of a carnal mind, is incapable of that peace and pleasure which are so relishing to a spiritual mind.

He is but ill disposed to discern and take in that, which is fit to administer the highest delight to the soul. Such a mind has scarce any room for spiritual joys to enter; and no inclination to perform those acts, by which communion with God is maintained, and the foretastes of heaven are received. The frame of his mind is set quite otherwise. He wants such a principle of lively faith, as gives that realizing view of spiritual objects, which fills with joy unspeakable, 1 Pet. i. 8. Nor is he acquainted with that life and fervour in religious exercises, or that purity of heart, which are necessary to prepare for God' s gracious manifestations to the soul.

Or, suppose he should be able to discern the grounds of spiritual pleasure, yet he is no way disposed to relish them, or to be made happy by them. Instead of delighting himself in God, "he says unto God, depart from me, I desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that I should serve him? and what profit should I have, if I pray unto him?" Job xxi. 14, 15r He tastes not the sweetness of a pardon: he values not the dignity of being a child of God. A Saviour has no form or comeliness, in his eye, that he should desire him; nor are all the glad tidings of the gospel so welcome to him, as it would be to hear of an estate fallen to him, of a successful bargain, or any other present gratification which his heart is set upon. The very vision and enjoyment of the blessed God in heaven, would be an insipid thing to a man, the turn of whose soul is wholly to earth. Carnal minds account it no better than folly in other people, when they express a delight in God's ordinances, or speak of such a thing as hungrt7ig and thirsting after righteousness. The reason is; that either matters of a spiritual nature are in their account merely imaginary, without substance and reality ; or some present good is much more suitable to their taste and inclination. Thus "folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom," Prov. xv. 21.

In the nature of the thing then, and at present, what the apostle says evidently holds true.

2. This is farther true in respect of God's sentence and constitution. To be carnally minded, is death; or the way to death, to everlasting wrath and misery: but to be spiritually minded, is life and peace, or the way to eternal life and happiness.

1st, The carnal mind must issue in everlasting death. Not that the future punishment will be an extinction of being; happy would it lie in comparison for the men of this world, if that were the case; but while they continue in being and sense, their condition will justly deserve the character of death, the second death. In the future state their spiritual death will be fixed and consummated. The enmity against God, which is now the prevailing character of a carnal mind, will then rise to its utmost height. All the remains of virtuous inclination or of good nature, as we call it, which might seem to be in men here, will be totally extinguished, when they leave the world in their sins: and "he that was filthy, will be filthy still." There will be an entire end of all that looks like felicity. For they will be stripped of all the sensual employments, in which they placed their happiness on earth: not so much as a drop of water to cool the tongue will be found there, Lnke xvi. 24. And for the true happiness of the heavenly state, they neither will be admitted to a share in it; nor will have any taste for it, if it were within their reach. And beside this, all which can make misery consummate, will be inflicted. The wrath of a living God, the fire of hell, the worm of an accusing conscience, and the society of devils and wicked men, then ungrateful enough, shall concur to their everlasting destruction. The scripture uses many phrases and emblems to describe that misery in its horrible nature: and among the rest, this of death in particular, as the most formidable thing to nature. "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death," Jam. i. 15. "The end of these things is death," Rom. vi. 21. "The wages of sin is death," ver. 23. So here, to be carnally minded is death. That is,

Without repentance and a change before they leave the world, men of this character are doomed to eternal death by God, the judge of all. "If ye live after the flesh, (says the apostle in this chapter, ver. 13.) ye shall die." This is the sentence, which God has published against all such; which he will never reverse, and none else can.

Such indeed, by their present temper, are fit for no other issue of things than this. They are "vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction:" In no fitness to take delight in a better world, if they should be allowed a place there, where all is holy and heavenly; but of a temper already prepared for the miserable world, for they breathe a disaffection to God, which in the height of it is the very temper of devils.

And sometimes men of this make, have the beginnings of this second death, even while they continue in the body. This is evidently the case of some, when they are given up .to "strong delusions, to their own hearts' lustsi" And sometimes they are made to feel the lively forerunners of divine wrath in their consciences, and leave the world with the blackest presages of approaching misery. On the other hand.

2dly, The spiritual mind shall issue in everlasting life and peace: that which deserves indeed to be stiled life. The spiritual life is to be perfected. There is a "perfect day, to which the path of the just, like the shining light, is tending more and more," Prov. iv. 18. What the author of "a good work had begun, will then be performed," Phil. i. 6. "All tears shall be wiped away from saints, and every uneasiness cease, for they shall enter into rest; and be admitted to fulness of joy in God's presence, and to pleasures for ever

more at his right hand,” Psal. xvi. 11. This is to be the end of a spiritual mind; and therefore it may justly be said to be life and peace. By the tenor of the gospel-covenant, all of this character are entitled to this life. “There is no condemnation to such as walk after the spirit,” ver, 1. “If ye by the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live,” ver. 18. And to the same purpose our apostle bespeaks the Colossians, Col. iii. 2—4. “Set your affections on things above, not on things below. For ye are dead, (you profess to be dead to the world,) and, (if you are really so,) your life (your better life,) is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” The spiritual mind is itself a meetness for heaven. As it is of heavenly descent, so it tends towards heaven. While the carnal mind in its progress is ripening for hell, the renewed temper, makes a man “meet for the inheritance among the saints in light.” Such a man has his heart, and thoughts, and pursuits, directed to the same objects, which make the happiness of heaven; only they are seen and enjoyed in the other world after the manner of heaven. The same God, the same Redeemer, the same holiness, which the Christian chiefly pursues now, will make the felicity of the future state; only we shall then “know these objects, even, as we are known,” 1 Cor. xiii. 12. And those, who have their minds thus set, have the beginnings and pledges of everlasting life. The “Spirit is in them as a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” John iv. 14. “He is an earnest of the inheritance,” Eph. i. 18, 14. As far as they are spiritualized, they have heaven brought down into their souls; the same temper formed there in part, which gloriously shines in the inhabitants of the upper world; and therefore may properly be called glory begun : besides which, to some of his servants God has vouchsafed such foretastes of the land of Canaan, while they were in this wilderness; such refreshing views of his love and favour, as have carried them for a while in appearance above the world, enabled them to rejoice in tribulation, and to long to depart and to be with Christ. - - * Now certainly a mind entitled to life by divine promise, . made meet for it by divine grace, and into which God is

« AnteriorContinuar »