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carnal mind, and prejudice is excited against it, as threatening to deprive the soul of all its present satisfaction ; for, through the power of this darkness, it cannot discern the excellency of heavenly objects, nor have any - suitable affections for them. Hereby this prejudice becomes invincible ; they neither do, nor can, nor will admit of those things which are utterly inconsistent with: their .carnal views.
(2.) The mind, by this darkness, is filed with prejudices against the mystery of the Gospel. As natural men - cannot receive, so they despise the wisdom of God in it, and look on its doctrines as empty and unintelligible notions ;-and this is the prejudice whereby this darkness prevails in the minds of men otherwise knowing and learned; it has done so in all ages, and in none more eflectually than in the present. The spiritual wisdom of God in the Gospel, appears to the wisest men in the world, while under the power of this darkness, fanatical, chimerical, and foolish. To demonstrate this, is the de'sign of the apostle (1 Cor. i. and ii. chap.); for he directly affirms that the doctrine of the Gospel is the wisdom of God in a mystery; that this wisdom cannot be discerned by the wise and learned of the world who have not received the Spirit of Christ; and, therefore, that the things of it are weakness and folly to them. And that which is foolish is to be despised; yea, folly is the Oply object of contempt: and hence we see that some, with the greatest contempt imaginable, despise the purity, simplicity, and whole mystery of the Gospel, who yet Profess to believe it. But to clear the nature of this prejudice, a few things may be distinctly observed.
There are two sorts of things declared in the Gospel. first, Such as are absolutely its own, and which have no lootsteps in the law or light of nature. Of this kind are all things concerning the love of God in Christ Jesus; the mystery of his incarnation and mediation; the dispendation of the Spirit ; our adoption, justification, and Sanctification ; in short, every thing that belongs to the purchase and application of saving grace. These things de purely and properly evangelical,peculiar to the
There are also other things in the Gospel which have
their foundation in the law and light of nature; such are all the moral duties. These are in some measure known by the light of nature ; men are able to form a judgment of their actions, whether they be good or evil, before the Gospel is preached to them. But the word directs to the right performance of our duty, from a right principle, by a right rule, and to a right end. Hereby it gives them a new nature, and turns moral duties into evangelical obedience.
Hence it follows, that this is the method of the Gospel. It first proposes things which are peculiarly its own : it reveals its own mysteries as the foundation of faith and obedience : it inlays them in the inind, and thereby conforms the whole soul unto them; and then it grafts all duties of moral obedience on this stock of faith in Christ. This is the method which the apostle Paul observes in all his epistles ; he first declares the mysteries of faith that are peculiar to the Gospel, and then descends to those moral duties which are regulated thereby.
But-the prejudice which we speak of, inverts the order of these things. Those who are under the power of it, fix their minds first and principally on those things which have their foundation in the light of nature. These they make the foundation; whereas the gospel allows them to be only the necessary superstructions on the foundation ; and resolving to give the pre-eminence to moral duties, they often treat the peculiar doctrines of the gospel with contempt, as of no importance comparatively: and to avoid the trouble of examining them, they reject them at once as unintelligible or unnecessary; or else, by forced interpretations, enervating the spirie and perverting the mystery of them, they square them to their own low and carnal apprehensions. They would reduce them all to their own light, as some ; to reason, as others; to philosophy, as the rest. Hereby advancing morality above the grace of the gospel, they at once reject the gospel, and destroy morality ; for taking it on from its proper foundation, it falls into the dirt, of which the conversation of such men is no small evidence. .
It was thus of old. God says of Ephraim, I have written to him the great things of the law; but they were counted as a strange thing.' The law was the entire means
1. of God's communicating his mind and will to that people,
as his whole counsel is revealed to us in the Gospel ; these he wrote unto them-made them plain and perspicuous : but after all, they were esteemed by them; as the gospel now is, a thing foreign and alien to their minds. They will regard what is akin to the principles of their nature, morally good or evil; but the hidden wisdom of God in the gospel is a strange thing.
The power of this darkness will further appear by considering the nature and use of the mind, which is the faculty affected with it. The mind may be considered either as it is theoretical or contemplative, or as it is practical, determining the will to its actual operations, moral and spiritual. Hence it follows, that neither the will nor affections can desire or cleave to any good but what is presented to them by the mind, and as it is presented. That good which the mind cannot discover, the will cannot chuse, nor the affections cleave unto. The mind is the eye of the soul; and if this ' eye be evil, the whole soul is full of darkness. As the soul cannot, by any other faculty, receive and embrace that good which the mind does not apprehend,So where the mind is practically deceived, and, captivated by the power of prejudices, the will and affections cannot deliver themselves from entertaining that evil which the mind has perversely assented to. Where the mind is reprobate, so as to call good, evil, and evil, good, the heart, affections, and conversation, will he conformable thereto ; and therefore, in Scripture, the deceit of the mind is commonly laid down as the principle of all sin.
And this is a brief delineation of the state of the human mind while unregenerate, with respect to the things of God; and from hence we conclude that it is so depraved, vitiated, and corrupted, that it is not able upon the proposal of spiritual things in the preaching of the Gospel, to understand, receive, and embrace them in a proper spiritual and saving manner, without the internal, supernatural, and effectual influence of the Holy Ghost.
Life and Death, Natural and Spiritual, compared.
NOTHER scriptural description of unregenerate
1 men is, that they are spiritually dead; and hence, in like manner, it follows, that there is a necessity of an internal efirectual work of the Holy Ghost on the souls of mnen, to deliver them out of this state by regeneration; and this principally respects their wills and affections, as the darkness before described does their understandings. There is a spiritual life whereby men live to God ; this, they being strangers to, and alienated from, are spiritually dead : and this the Scripture declares concerning all unregenerate persons, partly in direct words, and partly in other assertions of the same import. Of the first sort the testimonies are many and express : “You were dead in trespasses and sins ; Eph. ii. 1. ver. 5. "When you were dead in sins. Col. ii. 13. ' And you being dead in your sins.' 2 Cor. v. 14. “If one died for all, then were all dead.' And the same is asserted in the second way, where the recovery of men by the grace of Christ is called their quickening, or the bestowing a new life upon them ; for this supposes they were dead.
Spiritual death is metaphorically so called, from its ana. logy to natural death. It may therefore be useful to consider the nature of life and death natural, in allusion to which the state of unregenerate men is thus described.
By life, in general, we understand, The act of a quick-: ening principle on a subject to be quickened, by virtue of; their union; and this includes, (1.) The principle of life itself, which in man is the rational living soul; • God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.' Having formed his body of the dust of the earth, he creates for him a distinct animating soul, and infuses it into the matter prepared for its reception; and as he did thus in the creation of the human species at first, he continues so to do in the ordinary course of his providence for the continuation of it; for having ore dained the preparation of the body by generation, he im.
mediately infuses into it the living soul, the breath of life. There is, (2.) The quickening act of this principle on the subject quickened, in and by virtue of union. Hereby the whole man becomes a living soul, a person quickened by a vital principle, and enabled for all natural vital actions. There are, (3.) The acts of this life : such are the actings of the senses, motion, reception of food, and the like. These are acts of life, as life ; inseparable from it, and intended to proserve it. There are also such acts of life as preceed from the special nature of this quickening principle; as the voluntary rational acts of our understandings and wills.
Hence it appears in what natural death consists ; and it includes, (1.) The separation of the soul from the body. (2.) A cessation of all vital actings; for that union from whence they should proceed is dissolved : and, (3.) As a consequent of these, there is in the body an impotence and inaptitude to all vital operations ; for the body is no longer able to effect them.
First. There is no principle of spiritual life in unre- : generate persons; no power of living to God, or of performing any acceptable duty. It is with them as to all the acts of life spiritual, as it is with the body as to the acts of life natural, when the soul is departed from it. Whatever men do, unless endowed with a quickening principle of grace, they can perform no act spiritually. vital. The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. Rom. viii. 7. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God, ver. 8. Our Lord says, that “no man can come to him unless the Father draw him. And so it is figuratively expressed, where natural men are compared to evil trees; it is affirmed, that they cannot bring forth good fruit unless their nature be changed. There is no power in men by nature, on the mere proposal of their duty, and exhortations to the performance of it, accompanied with the most suitable motives, to perceive, know, will, or do any thing in a manner acceptable to God, without a new gracious habit enabling them thereto. *
* It is objected, That this renders all exhortations useless. I answer, (1.) Nothing is requisite in the application of means to an I end, but that they are suited to it, and that the subject to be