Gal. V. 17. The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh : and these are contrary the one to the other : so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. IT might be naturally imagined, that, from the moment of our conversion to God, the transformation of the soul into the Divine image should proceed so rapidly, as soon to extirpate sin altogether. But God has not seen fit so to carry on his work in his people's hearts. The Canaanites were not rooted out of the land at once, but " by little and little^:" and so it is with our spiritual enemies : they have strongholds, from which they cannot be expelled, but by means of a long-protracted warfare. They remain, to be " thorns in our eyes and in our sides ;" and ultimately in a more conspicuous manner to subserve the glory of God in their final extirpation. The best of men have yet within them two contrary and contending principles ; the one being used by Satan as an instrument for the defeating of God's gracious purposes towards them ; the other being employed by God for the furthering and securing of their eternal welfare. To what an extent the conflict between the two is sometimes carried, may be seen in the Galatian converts, many of whom betrayed by their contentious dispositions how great an ascendant the evil principle yet retained over them, notwithstanding all the professions of piety which they made, and the distinguished advantages they enjoyed. The Apostle did not mean to extenuate, and much less to excuse, the sinfulness of their instable and contentious conduct ; but he exhorts them to walk more entirely under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as the only

means of securing them against the evil propensities which they had manifested, and of carrying on unto perfection the good work that had been begun in them^ » Dent. vii. 22. with umb, xxiii. 55. ^ ver. 16.

220 GALATIA S, V. 17. [2083. In speaking of the two principles mentioned in our text, we shall notice, I. Their united existence — There yet remains in God's people an evil principle, which is here designated by the name of " flesh"— [Man, since the fall of our first parents, is born into the world a corrupt creature : for " who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" He is depraved in all the members of his body, and in all the faculties of his soul : there is no part which is not defiled and debased by sin : the understanding is become dark ; the will perverse ; the affections sensual ; the conscience seared ; the memory retentive only of things that are gratifying to the carnal mind. However this depravity may be checked by grace, it is not extirpated : it remains like the infection in the leprous house, and will remain till the house itself is levelled with the ground.] But there is also in them a new heaven-born principle, which is called " spirit" — ; [This is spoken of by our blessed Lord as contradistinguished from the other, and in precisely the same terms: ' That which is born of the flesh, is flesh ; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirits" Under the term " flesh," he includes all that we bring into the world with us, and all that

characterizes us as men : but the " spirit" is that which makes and designates xxsneio men, or " new creatures in Christ Jesus." Indeed, it is called " the new man," as the other is " the old man ;" and is " a renewal in the spirit of our mind," after the " very image of our God, in righteousness and true holiness^." This new principle is infused into the soul at the time of our regeneration ; and it is, if I may so speak, the seminal principle of our conversion. At the instant of its infusion into the soul, we are " quickened from the dead," and " pass from death unto life." Previously to the communication of it to us from above, we are like the dry bones in Ezekiel's vision : we may have the form of men, but we are not living men : it is not till we have received that, that " Christ liveth in us ;" but then " Christ himself becomes our life^" ow this principle coexists with the former : it does not at once expel the former ; nor is itself barred out by the former : but it enters into, and occupies, the whole man, even as the former did ; and, according to the measure in which it is imparted, it communicates c John ill. 6. d Eph. iv. 22—24. e Gal. ii. 20. andiv. 19. and Col. iii. 4.

2083.] PRI CIPLES OF FLESH A D SPIRIT. 221 light to the understanding, submission to the will, heavenliness to the affections, tenderness to the conscience, and to the memory a tenacious apprehension of all that is good. From the time of its existence in the soul, it becomes a second self, a spiritual self as distinguished from the carnal self ; agreeably to what_ the Apostle has repeatedly said for the purpose of distinguishing the more fully the actings of the two contrary principles : " It is no more I that do this evil, but sin that dwelleth in me^."] Both these principles being strong and active in the soul, we will consider,

II. Their contrary operations — The flesh is always striving to regain its former ascendency over us — [The members of our bodies are but its agents and instruments : the chief seat of its residence is the soul ; in every faculty of which it works, to " bring forth fruit unto death." In the understanding, it suggests proud reasonings against the revealed will of God, prompting us to dispute the authority of his precepts, the truth of his promises, the justice of his threatenings, and the wisdom of that mysterious plan of redemption which he has devised for the recovery of fallen man. In the will, it stirs up rebellion against him, and a determination to follow " its own corrupt and deceitful lusts." In the affections, it magnifies the things of time and sense, so as to make them, if not the only, at least the chief, objects of its pursuit. In the conscience, it produces such blindness and partiality, as to force from it a sentence of condemnation or acquittal, not according to truth, but according to its own predominant habits and inclinations. or does the memory escape its baneful influence, being filled by it with all manner of corrupt images, which from time to time it presents to the imagination, as the means of corrupting the heart, and enslaving the soul. The better principle, on the other hand, protests against all the workings of the flesh, and presents to the mind such considerations as are calculated to awaken the tempted soul to a sense of its guilt and danger. Especially it reminds the soul of the obligations it owes to God the Father and to the Lord Jesus Christ for all the wonders of redeeming love ; and provokes it to high and heavenly pursuits. What is said of the Holy Spirit may also be said of this divine principle which is formed in the soul ; namely, that " when the enemy comes in <" Rom. vii. 17, 20.

222 GALATIA S, V. 17. [2083. like a flood, the Spirit lifts up a standard against him." The standard of the cross especially is that by which it calls forth into activity all the powers of the soul, and unites them in the service of their God. The reflux of a tide may not unfitly illustrate its operation on the soul. The flesh, like a majestic river, runs with irresistible impetuosity towards the ocean, till the tide begins to flow ; and then, from an invisible but mighty influence, its waves are staid, till by degrees its current is turned back again towards the source from whence it emanated. This in the material world is but the process of a few hours ; but in the spiritual world it is the work of the whole life. The dominance of the flesh is exhibited in the progress of the river to the ocean ; the conflicts and triumphs of the spirit are depicted in the reversal of its course, and the progress towai'ds the fountain-head.] In this however the illustration fails, that when the tide has once overcome the resistance of the river, the conflict ceases : but it is not so with the Christian's conflicts : they continue to the end ; and may perhaps be better compared with a conflagration which is opposed by engines, where the supply of water is scarcely equal to the demand : sometimes the fire yields to the well-directed stream ; and at other times it breaks forth with renewed fury, and seems to defy the efforts of those who would arrest its progress. This, I say, will place in the justest view the operations of the two principles within us, and enable us to comprehend, III. Their combined effectsActing always in opposition the one to the other, they prevent us from following either to the extent that we should, if there were but one principle within us. Through the simultaneous actings of each, 1. We do not serve sin as we did —

[We did follow it with constancy and alacrity, and without remorse. But not so now. The better principle will not admit of it. Like the angel that was sent to Balaam, it presents itself in our way to obstruct our course ; and, if we overcome it on one occasion, it will meet us again, and renew its opposition till it has prevailed. or can we now so easily run into evil. Sin now appears to be sin, and consequently to be an object of aversion and dread : and, though its solici-

2083.] PRI CIPLES OF FLESH A D SPIRIT. 223 tations may prevail, we yield to them rather as a captive that is dragged against his w^ill, than as persons following the bent and inclination of their own hearts. ow too we can no longer wipe our mouth, like the adulteress, and say, What evil have I dones? Remorse and shame are now the followers of transgression : and an evil thought now occasions more pain in the soul, than formerly the perpetration of the act. Thus the corrupt principle, though not extirpated, is obstructed, and ceases to maintain an undisputed sway.] 2. or do we serve God as we zoould — [The renewed soul pants after universal holiness : it would be pure as God is pure, and perfect as God is perfect. It would believe every word of God without the smallest hesitation or doubt : but unbelief creeps in, and weakens the energy of our faith. We would love God with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength ; but the contracted soul cannot expand itself to the occasion. We would draw nigh to him in prayer and praise, and hold most intimate fellowship with the Father and the Son; but the heart " starts aside as a deceitful bow," and, like a bird entangled in a snare, is incapable of executing its most ardent desires. In a word, the renewed soul would be satisfied with no exertions, however great ; no services, however eminent ; no enjoyment of God, however intimate : it aspires after absolute perfection, and a total transformation into the Divine image. But, alas ! its

attainments fall infinitely short of its desires, and it is constrained to cry, " O that I had wings hke a dove ! then would I flee away and be at rest ! " That this is no false representation of the Christian's state, may be seen from the account which St. Paul himself gives of his own experience. Of the united existence of these two principles, and of their contrar}' operations within him, and of their combined effects, he speaks at large in the seventh chapter to the Romans : " He had a law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin, which was in his members:" " When he would do good, evil was present with him ;" so that " the good which he would, he did not, and the evil which he would not, that he did." " To will indeed was present with him ; but how to perform that which was good, he found not." Hence, feeling himself like a poor captive chained to a putrid corpse, which he was compelled to drag about with him to the latest period of his existence, he brake forth into this mournful complaint, " O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death^?"] g Prov. XXX. 20. '' Rom. vii. 11 — 24.

224> GALATIA S, V. 17. [2083. From this subject we may draw many important lessons. — It is of use, 1. For instruction — [How shall I know whether I am a Christian indeed ? Shall I know it by a freedom from all anxieties, or by a deliverance from all sin ? o ; but by an earnest anxiety about the soul, and an incessant conflict with sin and Satan. A body, when dead, is insensible, whatever be the state to which it is reduced: and, if the soul be insensible of its state, it is a proof that it is dead also. A living soul trembles at the

Divine judgments; labours to obtain a well-founded hope of peace with God ; flees to the Lord Jesus Christ for refuge, and cleaves to him with full purpose of heart. Being united unto Christ by faith, the believer enlists under his banners, and, as a good soldier, heartily engages in a conflict with all his enemies. ever for a moment will he turn his back ; he may be wounded, but he will not yield ; he may be beaten down, but he will rise again to renew the combat : he will never put off" his armour, till he is crowned with victory, and beholds " Satan himself bruised under his feet." ow, if we will ascertain our real state before God, let us inquire, what we know of this spiritual warfare 1 Is it begun ? Is it carried on yet daily ? Are we like soldiers in a camp, watching with all care, withstanding firmly the assaults of our enemies, and in our turn vigorously pursuing them to their strong-holds, and suffering none to approach us with impunity ? Yes, verily, if we are Christians indeed, we are " warring a good warfare," and " fighting the good fight of faith." There may be, as in earthly campaigns, short seasons of comparative ease : but if we truly belong to Christ, this is our one business, our one employment, to walk in the Spirit, and to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts'.] 2. For consolation — [ o man can be engaged in this warfare without feeling deeply humbled on account of the strength and number of his corruptions. Many will be his sighs, his tears, his groans : yes, " even they who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even they will groan within themselves," will "groan, I say, being burthened^," longing to get rid of their corruptions, and to have " mortality, with all its attendant evils, swallowed up of life^" But, if sin be our burthen, it is at least a comfort to us to reflect, that we are enabled to feel it a burthen : for there was a time, when it was harboured and indulged without remorse. This too is a source of comfort, that, in this i Gal. V. 24, 25. '^ Rom. viii. 2.3. i 2 Cor. v. 4.

2083.1 PRI CIPLES OF FLESH A D SPIRIT. 225 struggle within us, the younger shall prevail'"; " however sin may have abounded, grace shall much more abound ; and as sin has formerly reigned unto death, so shall grace ultimately reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord"." Doubtless the conflicts will be painful to flesh and blood : but by them shall the soul be trained for heaven, and be made " meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." Go on then, stripling as thou art, believer, against the Goliath that menaces thy existence : and know that thou mayest enter into the combat, singing, " Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ ! "] 3. For direction — [Whatever your attainments be, " tvalk humbly with God.'' Were you as perfect as Job, it would still become you, on account of your remaining corruptions, to acknowledge yourselves '* vile," and to " repent and abhor yourselves in dust and ashes." — ■ Be loatchful too against your spiritual enemies. With hearts so deceitful and corrupt as yours, and in the midst of an ensnaring world, surrounded too by myriads of evil spirits, whose devices none but God can understand, how can you hope to maintain your steadfastness, if you stand not upon your watch-tower, and guard against every motion of your corrupt nature ? And never for a moment turn away your eyes from the Lord Jesus Christ. Where can you wash away your past iniquities, but in the fountain of his blood? Or where can you obtain grace sufficient for your daily necessities, but out of the fulness which is treasured up for you in him ? Lastly, continue instant in prayer.

othing can come to you but in answer to prayer; (for " if you ask not, neither will you have ;") nor shall any thing be wanting to you, if only you ask it of God for Christ's sake. Examine your own hearts, or inquire of others what their experience has been, and you will find it invariably true, that your victories or defeats have been proportioned to your urgency in prayer, or your remissness in that holy duty. As in the days of old, whilst Moses held up his hands, Israel prevailed ; but when his hands hanged down, success was transferred to Amalek; so it is in every age, with every saint. Watch therefore unto prayer : continue instant in prayer : " give unto your God no rest day or night :" plead with him : wrestle with him as Jacob did : and you shall find " your inward man renewed day by day," till the work of grace that has been begun in you is perfected, and consummated in glory.] ™ Gen. XXV. 23. Rom. v. 12. " Rom. v. 20, 21.



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