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which is born of the Spirit, is spirit, that is, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, and made for living as spirits ought to do, as members of the spiritual and eternal world; the Apostle's words cast up to us in a further and more comprehensive view. And these two stand represented by two different foils; 'of such different natures, that whatever culture and pains is bestowed on them, they always produce, according to their nature, good or bad fruit. Thus the child of Adam, notwithstanding all the labour and pains that can be taken on him, must end in death, and be reduced to that dust from which he was taken; and that is all that they who employ themselves on this perishable subject have to expect in return for all their pains and labour. They have nothing to reap but corruption. But this is not all: every step that is taken, or indeed can be taken, for the improvement of this untoward subject, produces only the more plentiful crop of corruption: for juft so far as they who are born of the flesh are raised above the beasts that perish, so near will they be found to approach to the unhappy state and temper of devils, and secure to them
selves their dreadful share in the second death.
But those who fow to the Spirit are in a very different condition in all respects. They have another kind of soil to work on, a very different kind of seed; and the harvest accordingly is of a directly opposite kind: For they who low to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. I took it for granted, that what our Lord calls Spirit, is what the Apostle here designs, viz. that which is born of the Spirit, as opposed to what is born of the flesh. It is true, that the two different states of mankind, under the law, and under the gospel, are oftener than once denoted by these terms; and might with great propriety be so constructed in this place; as it was the Apostle's great design, to draw off the Galatians from that servile state, to the freedom and liberty of the sons of God, which was held forth to them in the gospel which Paul preached. Bụt when all this is admitted, it makes no manner of alteration. The law, whatever it is that is meant by that word, if it is no more but bare law, is but one of these things that may easily fall within the reach of a
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mere child of Adam; and obedience to its precepts, or keeping the commandments as it is called, is really a great part of that labour and toil he bestows in fowing to the flesh; and such is the harvest. No deeds of law can deliver men from that corruption they are doomed to undergo: so far from it, that an attempt of this kind is, of all others, the most malignant work of the flesh; for it assumes the name and authority of God; and under that colour carries on the most daring rebellion against him, by grasping at eternal life, in a way which, he has declared, cannot succeed, unless they could make it out for themselves, in spite of his declared purpose to glorify the riches of his sovereign grace in his blessed Son.
And what is the gospel-state, when drawn out at full length in all the properties and privileges of it? Truly no more but what is comprehended in this one word Spirit, burn of the Spirit; and the unfolding of it amounts to the very same thing, a new creature begotten and born of God, by the immortal feed of the word of the gospel; and maintained, supported, and carried on to perfection by the same means. In the application of this fame word of the gofpel, consists the exercise and labour which the Apostle calls fowing to the Spirit. In this view, compared with our Lord's parable of the sower, this should be the same with the direction the Apostle gives, Col. iii. 16. “Let the word of Christ • dwell in you richly, in all wisdom.” And where-ever this is received into a good and honest heart; it cannot miss to bring forth a plentiful harvest of everlasting life. It is the word of life, the manifestation of the Spirit of life, and therefore the proper food and nourishment of the new créature. But though both the foil and the seed be very good, it lies in a bad neighbourhood; the flesh and Spirit dwell together. This makes a continual attention, and diligent application, absolutely necessary. The prophet's direction for preparing the soil, Jer. iv. 3. “Break “ up your fallow ground, and fow not a“mong thorns," must be feconded with affiduous watchfulness and care against the roots of bitterness springing up; the flesh lufting against the Spirit, and the enemy always ready to steal in his tares. But, after all, as in the natural husbandry the 3 K 2
richest richest foil, the best culture, and the choisest seed, cannot secure a plentiful crop without proper seasons, and the influence of the material heavens; (and these we cannot have at our wills, and if we had, we would not know how to chuse): so the fuccess of the spiritual husbandry is still more dependent on the influences of the spiritual heavens; that is, on him who is the very substance of the fpiritual world, and regulates at pleasure all the movements of it; but with this unspeakable advantage, that in the immensity of his goodness, he has opened and established a mean of communication which cannot be stopped or marred in its happy effects, in and through his beloved Son, in whom, we are assured, he is always well pleased; so that we may, with certainty, promise ourselves all that we can possibly need, to secure a harvest of life infinitely above our conceptions, and most fanguine hopes and wishes: for he has assured us, “ he will give his Holy Spirit to those “ that ask him.”