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portion ! no reason, no love, no life, but what is devoted to thee, employed on thee, and for thee here, and shall be perfected in Thee, the only perfect, final object for evermore. Upon the holy altar, erected by thy Son, and by his hands, and his mediation, I humbly devote and offer to thee this heart-Oh that I could say with greater feeling, this flaming, loving, longing heart! But the sacred fire which must kindle on my sacrifice must come from thee. It will not else ascend unto thee. Let it consume this dross, so the nobler part may know its home. All that I can say to commend it to thine acceptance, is, that I hope it is washed in precious blood, and that there is something in it that is thine own. It still looketh toward tbee, and groaneth to thee, and floweth after thee, and will be content with gold, and mirth, and honour, and such inferior fooleries no more. It lieth at thy door, and will be entertained or perish. Though, alas! it loves thee not as it would. I boldly say it longs to love thee. It loves to love thee. It seeks, it craves no greater blessedness than perfect, endless, mutual love. It is vowed to thee, even to thee alone, and will never take up with shadows more ; but is resolved to lie down in gorrow and despair, if thou wilt not be its rest and joy. It hateth itself for loving thee no more, accounting no want, deformity, shame, or pain, so great and grievous a calamity."*
But what explanation shall we give of this anomalous and paradoxical case? On what principles shall we account for it? He who has stated the fact, has
* Reasons of the Christian Religion, chap. xii. The above quotation is copied from Mr. Bridge's excellent Memoirs of Miss Mary Jane Graham.
unfolded at the same time the secret of its cause. " FOR THE FLESH LUSTETH AGAINST THE SPIRIT, AND THE SPIRIT LUSTETH AGAINST THE FLESH ; FOR THESE ARE CONTRARY THE ONE TO THE OTHER.” The divine plaps relative to our world are wrought and developed gradually. Nature, providence, and grace, all present this principle of gradation in the operations and manifestations of the designs of God. Hence the stirring, struggling, counteracting processes pervading the realms of nature. Hence too the striving and conflicting movements, exhibited on the entire face and course of human affairs. And hence that appearance of incongruity, strife, contrariety, and warfare in the internal principles and character of real christians. It is because God accomplishes his work of sanctifying and recovering men to himself by degrees-because the imparted excellence, though decided in character, predominant in power, and victorious in final result, is nevertheless imperfect and progressive, that the breast of the christian presents principles so antagonistical, elements so discordant, tendencies so diverse, tempers so inconsistent, and movements so jarring and hostile. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” The two principles must be defined, before their contrariety can be well understood.
By “ FLESH,” is meant the corrupt and sinful nature of man. It must by no means be forgotten that its meaning is not to be confined to sensuality, in its grosser acceptation. It embraces that in all its varieties; but even in this one instance takes also in its wide range the disposition to “ bite and de
• Gal. v. 17,
vour ;” “idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emu. lations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders ; ” “ vain-glory, provoking one another, envying one another " * Taken in this extensive sense, it embodies the whole opposition of man to the character and will of God. “Because the car. nal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”+ Were this extension of the epithet not demonstrative of the use of the word to denote the entire principles of evil in the heart, other sources of proof are open to us in different parts of the Apostle's writings. If it be thought a singular application of the term “flesh,” to employ it as designating purely mental sins as well as bodily appetites, we are not left to guess the reason. It denotes man-is synonymous with human nature. It signifies the nature of man as it is in itself. This nature left to itself, can produce nothing beyond itself. “ That which is born of the flesh is flesh." It will never rise above it. The streams of human motive and action will never rise higher than their source. It is an affecting thought that the term which denotes man, should also denote evil. Fearful synonyms! Man and sin identified ! What a striking proof of the entireness and universality of human corruption! But the term is employed to denote depravity, not only in its dominant, total, and unbroken force; but in its lingering remnants as they are found in the hearts of even true Christians. A clear and striking instance of this application of the word occurs in the remonstrance
* Gal. v. 15-26.
† Rom. viii, 7, 8.
John iii. 6.
which Paul addressed to his Corinthian friends upon: that unworthy partizanship and favouritism which had crept among them, and disturbed their peace and produced disorders. “ For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men; for while one saith I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, are ye not carnal?”* It was certainly far from the reprover's intention to assert that his friends were still in a state of entire carnality and sin. He wished to convince them that they retained too much of their old habit and temper of mind. This too is the meaning of the term in the instance we cited from the Epistle to the Galatians, and which so graphically presents the cause of difficulty and frequent failure in a Christian's endeavours to serve God. By “flesh,” in this instance, we must understand sin—sin living, active, harassing, instigating, insidious. Still it is sin, not in its old force, not in its mastery, not in its tyranny; but sin dethroned, wounded, debilitated, condemned to crucifixion and death.
By the “SPIRIT,” the spiritual nature implanted in the hearts of believers by divine power, is to be understood. The “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,”
the fruits of the Spirit” 7-afford no equivocal indications of the character of the principle whence they spring. It is a new principle, lying altogether beyond the natural character of man--something to which fresh" could not give birth-which human nature could not originate, but which must be of su. pernatural production. “That which is born of the
flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” * That disposition is intended which in all its tendencies, operations, fruits, and consequences, is totally the opposite of man's native character. “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 cainally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” This new and spiritual principle is the governing one. It frees the mind from the hold and bondage of sin, and becomes itself the ruling, but the gently, sweetly ruling power. “ For the law of the Spirit of life, hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” + Both principles have place in the soul of the Christian ; but the new, the spiritual, the heaven-born and heaven-bound principle, is the predominant and the victorious one-- that which keeps the other in subjugation—which holds the throne, and which is preparing for final and eternal triumph.
The contrariety and active opposition of the two principles are strongly drawn. “For these are contrary the one to the other.” The separate view we have taken of them presents them in this position of radical, essential, and total opposition in nature and tendency. They lie over against each like two adversaries. Whilst the flesh and spirit have place in the same breast, the enmity, the opposition, the war, between them is unalterable and interminable. There can be no reconciliation, no compromise, no peace, Do truce, no parley; "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for they are contrary the one to the other.” The principles, we
• John iii, 6. + Rom. viii. 2. .