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natural state, innocent and right. In the 16th ver, the Apostle says, Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the FLESH : the flesh is something of an evil inclination, desire, or lust. But this is more strongly signified in the next words ; For the Flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the PLESH; and these are contrary the one to the other. What could have been said more plainly, to shew that what the apostle means by flesh, is something very evil in its nature, and an irreconcilable enemy to all goodness?
to all goodness? And it may be observed that in these words and those that follow, the apostle still figuratively represents the flesh as a person or agent, desiring, acting, having lusts, and performing works. And by works of the flesh, and fruits of the spirit, which are opposed to each other, (from ver. 19, to the end) are plainly meant the same as works of a sinful nature, and fruits of a holy renewed nature. * Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, &c.-But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,” &c. The apostle by flesh does not mean any thing that is innocent and good in itself, which only needs to be restrained and kept in proper bounds ; but something altogether evil, which is to be destroyed. I Cor. v. 5. To deliver such an one to satan, for the DESTRUCTION OF THE FLESH.
We must have no merey on it; we cannot be too cruel to it; it must even be crucified. Gal v. 24. They that are Christ's have cRUCIFIED the Flesh with the affections and lusts.
The apostle John--the same apostle that writes the account of what Christ said to Nicodemus--by the spirit means the same thing as a new, divine, and holy nature, exerting itself in a principle of divine love, which is the sum of all christian holiness. 1 John iii. 23, 24. " And that we should love one another, as he gave us commandment; and he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him: And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit that he hath given us. Chap. iv. 12, 13. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us : Hereby know we that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his spirit.” The spiritual principle in us being as it were a communication of the Spirit of God to us.
And as by (avsumd) spirit, is meant a holy nature, so by the epithet (TVEUMATIxG) spiritual, is meant the same as truly virtuous and holy, Gal. vi. 1. “ Ye that are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness." The apostle refers to what he had just said at the end of the foregoing chapter, where he had mentioned meekness as a fruit of the spirit. "And so by carnal or fleshly, (dagxıx) is meant the same as sinful. Rom. vii. 14.
“The law is spiritual, (i. e. holy) but I am carnal, sold under sin."
And it is evident that by fiesh, as the word is used in the New Testament, and opposed to spirit, when speaking of the qualifications for eternal salvation, is meant-not only what is now vulgarly called the sins of the flesh, consisting in inordinate appetites of the body, and their indulgence; but-the whole body of sin, implying those lusts that are most subtle, and farthest from any relation to the body ; such as pride, malice, envy, &c. When the works of the flesh are enumerated, Gal. v. 19—21. they are vices of the latter kind chiefly that are mentioned ; idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings. So, pride of heart is the effect or operation of the flesh. Col. ii. 18. Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind : In the Greek, (as before observed) by the mind of the flesh. So, pride, envying, strife, and division, are spoken of as works of the flesh, 1 Cor. iii. 3, 4. “ For ye are yet carnal (ca.gxixoi, fleshly.) For whereas there is envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal ?" Such kind of lusts do not depend on the body, or external senses ; for the devil himself has them in the highest degree, who has not, nor ever had, any body or external senses to gratify.
Here, if it should be inquired, how corruption or depravity in general, or the nature of man as corrupt and sinful, came to be called flesh; and not only that corruption which consists in inordinate bodily appetites? I think what the apostle says in the last cited place, Are ye not carnal, and walk as MEN! leads us to the true reason. It is because a corrupt and sinful nature is what properly belongs to mankind, or the race of Adam, as they are in themselves, and as they are by nature. The word flesh is often used in both the Old and the New Testament to signify mankind in their present state.
To enumerate all the places would be very tedious: I shall therefore only mention a few in the New Testament. Matt. xxiv. 22. “Except those days should be shortened, no flesh should be saved." Luke iii. 6. “ All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” John xvii. 2. “ Thou hast given him power over all flesh.* Man's nature, being left to itself, forsaken of the Spirit of God, as it was when man fell, and consequently forsaken of divine and holy principles, of itself became exceeding corrupt, utterly depraved and ruined: And so the word flesh, which signifies man, came to be used to signify man as he is in himself, in his natural state, debased, corrupt, and ruined. On the other hand, the word spirit came to be used to signify a divine and holy prin
* See also Artsü. 17. Rom. iö. 20. 1 Cor. i. 29, Gal ii. 16.
ciple, or new nature; because that is not of man, but of God, by the indwelling and vital influence of his spirit. And thus to be corrupt, and to be carnal, or fleshly, and to walk as men, are the same thing. And so in other parts of scripture, to savour the things that be of man, and to savour things which are corrupt, are the same; and sons of men, and wicked men, also are the same, as observed before. And on the other hand, to savour the things that be of God, and to receive the things of the Spirit of God, are phrases that signify as much as relishing and embracing true holiness or divine virtue.
All these things confirm what we have supposed to be Christ's meaning in saying, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit, is spirit.” His speech implies, that what is born in the first birth of man, is nothing but man as he is of himself, without any thing divine in him; depraved, debased, sinful, ruined man, utterly unfit to enter into the kingdom of God, and incapable of the spiritual divine happiness of that kingdom. But that which is born in the new birth, of the Spirit of God, is a spiritual principle, a holy and divine nature, meet for the heavenly kingdom. It is no small confirmation of this being the true meaning, that the words understood in this sense contain the proper and true reason, why a man must be born again, in order to enter into the kingdom of God; the reason given every where in other parts of scripture for the necessity of a renovation, a change of mind, a new heart, &c. in order to salvation: To give a reason of which to Nicodemus, is plainly Christ's design in the words which have been insisted on. Before I proceed, I would observe one thing as a corollary from what has been said.
Corol. If by flesh and spirit, when spoken of in the New Testament, and opposed to each other in discourses on the necessary qualification for salvation, we are to understand what has been now supposed, it will not only follow, that men by nature are corrupt, but wholly corrupt, without any good thing. If by flesh is meant man's nature, as he receives it in his first birth, then therein dwelleth no good thing; as appears by Rom. vii. 18. It is wholly opposite to God, and to subjection to his law, as appears by Rom. viii, 7, 8. It is directly contrary to true holiness, and wholly opposes it, as appears by Gal. v. 17. So long as men are in their natural state, they not only have no good thing, but it is impossible they should have or do any good thing; as appears by Rom. viii. 8. There is nothing in their nature, as they have it by the first birth, whence should arise any true subjection to God; as appears by Rom. viii. 7. If there were any thing truly good in the flesh, or in man's nature, or natural disposition, under a moral view, then it should only be amended; but the scripture represents as though we were to be enemies to it, and were to seek no
thing short of its entire destruction, as before observed. And elsewhere the apostle directs not to the amending of the old man, but putting it off, and putting on the new man: and seeks not to have the body of death made better, but to be delivered from it; and says, that if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (which doubtless means the same as a man new born,) old things are not amended but) passed away, and all things
But this will be further evident, if we particularly consider the apostle's discourse in 1 Cor. the latter part of the second chapter and the beginning of the third. There the apostle speaks of the natural man and the spiritual man: where natural and spiritual are opposed just in the same manner, as carnal and spiritual often are. In chap. ii. 14, 15. he says, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: For they are foolishness unto him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things.” And not only does the apostle here oppose natrual and spiritual, just as he elsewhere does carnal and spiritual, but his following discourse evidently shews that he means the very same distinction, the same two distinct and opposite things. For immediately on his thus speaking of the difference betwen the natnral and the spiritual man he says, " And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” Referring manifestly to what he had been saying in the immediately preceding discourse, about spiritual and natural men, and evidently using the word carnal as synonymous with natural. By which it is put out of all reasonable dispute, that the apostle by natural men means the same as men in that carnal, sinful state, that they are in by their first birth ;--notwithstanding all the glosses and criticisms, by which modern writers have endeavoured to palm upon us another sense of this phrase ; and so to deprive us of the clear instruction the apostle gives in that 14th verse, concerning the sinful miserable state of man by nature. Dr. T. says, by tuxos@, is meant the animal man, the man who maketh sense and appetite the law of his action. If he aims to limit the meaning of the word to external sense and bodily appetite, his meaning is certainly not the apostle's. For the apostle in his sense includes the more spiritual vices of envy, strife, &c. as appears by the four first verses of the next chapter ; where, as I have observed, he substitutes the word carnal in the place of Vuxix@. So the apostle Jude uses the word in like manner, opposing it to spiritual, or having the spirit, ver. 19. " These are they that separate themselves, sensual, (tuxixo) not having the spirit. The vices he had been just speaking of, were chiefly of the more spiritual kind. ver. 16. “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their
mouth speaking great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration, because of advantage.” The vices mentioned are much of the same kind with those of the Corinthians, for which he calls them carnal; envy, strife, divisions, saying, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos; and being puffed up for one against another. We have the same word again, Jam. iii. 14, 15. “ If ye have bitter envying and strife, glory not, and lie not against the truth: This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, (tuxıxn) and devilish ;" where also the vices the apostle speaks of are of the more spiritual kind.
So that on the whole, there is sufficient reason to understand the apostle, when he speaks of the natural man, in 1 Cor. ii. 14. as meaning man in his native corrupt state. And his words represent him as totally corrupt, wholly a stranger and enemy to true virtue or holiness, and things appertaining to it, which it appears are commonly intended in the New Testament by things spiritual, and are doubtless here meant by things of the spirit of God. These words also represent, that it is impossible man should be otherwise, while in his natural state. The expressions are very strong : The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, is not susceptible of things of that kind, neither can he know them, can have no true sense or relish of them, or notion of their real nature and true excellency ; because they are spiritually discerned ; they are not discerned by means of any principle in nature, but altogether by a principle that is divine, something introduced by the grace of God's holy spirit, which is above all that is natural. The words are in a considerable degree parallel with those of our Saviour, John xiv. 16, 17. “He shall give you the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him : But ye know him ; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
Observations on Rom. iij. 9_24.
If the scriptures represent all mankind as wicked in their first state, before they are made partakers of the benefits of Christ's redemption, then they are wicked by nature : For doubtless men's first state is their native state, or that in which they come into the world. But the scriptures do thus represent all mankind.
Before I mention particular texts to this purpose, I would observe that it alters not the case as to the argument in hand, whether we suppose these texts speak directly of infants, or only of such as understand something of their duty and state.