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THE law, spoken of here, is the moral law; or that law, which requires men to love God with all their heart, and their neighbor as themselves. The facts affirmed by the Apostle are, that the carnal mind is enmity against God, and for that reason, is not subject to the law of God that is, it does not obey the law of God, neither of course, can it obey this law, while it continues to be enmity against God. The apostle does not affirm, that a sinner cannot love God, but that a carnal mind cannot love God; for, to affirm that a carnal mind can love God, is the same as to affirm that enmity itself, can be love. In speaking from these words, I design 1st, to show,
What is not meant by the carnal mind. And, 2d. What the carnal mind, as used in the text, does mean. 3dly. That all men, who have not been born by the Spirit of God, have a carnal mind. And, 4thly. That this carnal mind is enmity against God.
4. It is not meant, that there are appetites or inclinations that are constitutional, which are enmity against God.
5. Nor is it meant, that all unconverted men, feel sensible emotions of enmity, or hatred to God. Enmity may exist in the mind, either as a volition, or an emotion. When existing in the form of a volition, it is a settled aversion to his character and government, of such a nature, that while it may have an abiding influence over our conduct, it may not have a felt existence in the mind.
When existing in the form of an emotion, it then constitutes what we call feeling; and its existence is a matter of consciousness. I said that enmity may exist in the form of a volition, or a settled aversion to God, and have an abiding influence over our conduct, leading us to treat God as an enemy, without rising into the form of an emotion, that may be sensibly felt, and be the object of consciousness. Emotions, exist in the mind, only when those objects are before it, that are calculated to produce them; and a principle reason why sinners do not more frequently exercise such emotions of hatred to God, as to be sensible of their enmity against him, is, that they seldom think of God. God is not in all their thoughts. And when they do think of him, they do not think justly, or think of him as he really is; they deceive themselves with vain imaginations, and hide from their own view his real character; and thus cover up their enmity.
II. I am to show what is meant by the carnal mind, as used in the text. The proper translation of this text is, the minding of the flesh is enmity against God. It is a voluntary state of mind. It is that state of supreme selfishness, in which all men are, previous to their conversion to God.
It is a state of mind; in which, probably, they are not born, but into which they appear to fall, very early after their birth. The gratification of their appetites, is made by them, the supreme object of desire and pursuit, and becomes the law of their lives; or that law in their members, that wars against the law of their minds, of which the apostle speaks.
They conform their lives, and all their actions to this rule of action, which they have established for themselves, which is nothing more nor less, than voluntary selfishness; or a controlling and abiding preference of self-gratification, above the commandments, authority, and glory of God.
It should be well understood, and always remembered, that the carnal mind, as used by the apostle, is not the mind itselfbut is a voluntary action of the mind. In other words, it is not any part of the mind, or body, but a choice or preference of the mind. It is, a minding of the flesh. It is, preferring self-gratification, before obedience to God. The constitutional appetites, both of body and mind, are in themselves innocent; but, making their gratification the supreme object of pursuit, is enmity against God.
It is the direct opposite of the character and the requirements of God. God requires us to subordinate all our appetites, of body and mind, to his glory, and to aim supremely at honoring and glorifying him. To love him with all our hearts, to bring all our powers of body and mind, under obedience to the law of love: and whatever we do, whether we eat or drink, we should do all to the glory of God. Now the carnal mind, or the minding of the flesh, is the direct opposite of this. It is pursuing as a supreme end, that which is the direct opposite of the requirements, and character of God. It is a choice, a preference, an abiding temper, or disposition of the mind; which consists in a determination to gratify self, and to make this, the high and supreme object of pursuit.
III. I am to show, that, previous to conversion, all men are in this state of enmity against God. The Bible speaks of men, as possessing by nature, one common heart or disposition. This text does not say, that the carnal minds of some men, are enmity against God; but that the carnal mind is enmityr against God. In another place, God says, "every imagination of the thoughts of their heart, (not hearts) is only evil continually." Another passage, says, "the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live." Indeed, unconverted men, throughout the Bible, are spoken of as having a common heart; and what the Bible asserts, is seen to be a matter of fact. Go throughout all the ranks of the human family from the sensitive female, that faints at the sight of blood, to the horrid pirate, whose eyes flash fire, and whose lips burn with blasphemy; and present to them, all, the claims of God, and the gospel of his Son, require them to repent, and give their hearts to God; and with one consent, they will plead their inability. Go to the refined, and unrefined; the learned and unlearned; the high and low; rich and poor; old and young; male and female; bond and free, of every country and of every clime; and not one of them can be persuaded to embrace the Gospel, without the interposition of the Holy Ghost. Now, how is it possible, to account for this notorious fact, but upon the principle, that however the external demeanor of different individuals, may be modified by circumstances, however much the natural temper may be made to differ, as respects men, by education, by animal temperament, by the state of the nervous system, and a variety of other considerations; still as it respects God, they possess the same disposition, and will, all, with one consent, begin to make excuses for not loving and obeying him.
IV. I am to show, that this carnal mind, or minding of the flesh, is enmity against God.
I shall pursue the same method, appeal to the same sources for proof, and go into the same field and gather facts, to establish the truth of this position, that I did in proof of the position that men do not love God. My appeal is to the well known laws of mind, as they are seen to develope themselves, in the transactions of every day. And, 1st. We are naturally pleased with those things that are displeasing to our enemies. Hatred is ill will. Therefore, whatever displeases or obliges our enemy, gratifies our ill will. It is a contradiction to say, that we hate an individual with a malevolent hatred, and yet have no satisfaction in what displeases him. It is the same as to say, that the gratification of our desires is not pleasing to us. We witness the developements of this law of mind, not only in our own case, but in the manifested feelings of those around us. See that man, if something has happened, greatly to disoblige his enemy, he cannot conceal the pleasure he takes in this event. If the same event has in some measure injured himself, and he is in some degree partaker in the common calamity, yet, if it has much more deeply injured, or completely ruined, his bitter enemy, he feels upon the whole, gratified with the event, and considers the ruin of his enemy, as more than a compensation for his own loss, and does not mind bearing the portion that has fallen to him, inasmuch as it has overwhelmed the man that he so deeply hates. Now, whatever he may say, under whatever hypocritical pretence he may conceal the satisfaction that he feels in this event; yet it remains certain, that his hatred is gratified, that he really at heart, takes pleasure in an event which has gratified his malignant opposition to his enemy.
We see this same law of mind, developing itself towards God. Sinners manifest the greatest pleasure in sin. It is the element in which they live and move. They roll it as a sweet morsel under their tongue. They drink in iniquity like water. They even weary themselves to commit iniquity. They not only do these things themselves, but have pleasure in them that do them. The very things that are the most displeasing to God, are most pleasing to them. And the things that are the most pleasing to God, are most displeasing to them. They love what God hates, and hate what God loves. This demonstrates that they are in a state of mind which is the direct opposite, of the character and will of God. The whole bent, and current, and inclination of their minds are the direct opposite of God's requirements; and are enmity against him. This is matter of fact. Again. We are naturally gratified, to see the friends of our enemy forsake and dishonor him. If a man hate another, and the children, or friends of this enemy of his, do any thing to grieve, or dishonor, or injure him, in any way, he may speak of it, as if he regretted it; but if he pretends to regret it, he is a hypocrite. It is just as certain, that upon the whole, he rejoices in it, as it is that he hates him. He rejoices in it, because, it gratifies his hatred. You see this law of mind, manifesting itself with equal uniformity and strength towards the blessed God. When the professed friends of God forsake his cause, and do any thing to dishonor him, you may perceive that unrepentant sinners are gratified. They will speak of it with exultation; and while Christians converse about it with sorrow, weep over it, and betake themselves to prayer that God will wipe away the reproach, it will become the song of the drunkard, and the wicked in bar- rooms, and in the corners of the streets, will laugh at it, and rejoice over it.
Again. We are apt to see and magnify the faults of the friends of our enemies. With what scrutiny, will politicians search after the faults of the friends and supporters of an opposing candidate. How eagle-eyed is that man in searching out all the failings of those that favor his enemy. How politicians, and others, will, not only see their real faults, but will greatly magnify them, and dwell upon them, until they fill their whole field of vision. They give their attention so exclusively to their faults, as to forget that they have any virtues. So enormous do their faults appear, that where they have the appearance of virtue, it is ascribed to duplicity and hypocrisy.
Now, you see this same spirit, often manifesting itself towards God. With what a searching and malignant gaze, are the eyes of unconverted men, fastened upon the professed friends of God. How eagerly they note their faults. How enormously they magnify them, and how apt are they to ascribe every appearance of virtue in them, to bigotry and hypocrisy.
Again. We are apt to misinterpret the motives, and put the worst construction upon the conduct of the enemies of our friends.If they are favoring the interests, and endeavoring to promote the happiness of one whom we greatly hate, we behold all their conduct through a jaundiced eye. The best things in them, are often ascribed by us, to the worst of motives; and those things in them, which deserve the most praise, are often, by us the most severely reprobated. Your acquaintance with your own hearts, and with the developements of the human character around you, will instantly supply abundant proofs of this remark. This feature of the human character, often, most odiously developes itself towards God. How frequently do we hear unrepentant sinners, ascribing the most praiseworthy deeds of God's professed friends, to the most unworthy motives. How often are their acts of greatest self-denial, those things in which they most humbly serve, and most nearly resemble God, misrepresented, ascribed to the basest of motives, and made the very reasons, upon which they ground their pertinacious opposition to them. It is impossible to account for this upon any other principle than that of their enmity against God; for the personsagainst whom this enmity is vented, are often entire strangers to them; individuals against whom they can have no personal hostility. It is manifestly not enmity to them, any further then they resemble God, that calls forth these expressions of hatred, but to the cause in which they are engaged, to the master whom they serve.
Again. We naturally shun the friends of our enemies. We naturally avoid the society of one, who we know to be particularly friendly to our enemy; his company and conversation is irksome to us. We see this same spirit manifested by unrepentant sinners toward the friends of God. They avoid them. Feel uneasy in their company. Their presence seems to impose restraints upon sinners, and they cannot abuse God with quite as much freedom when Christians are present. They are therefore glad to dispense with their company. How often do you observe unrepentant sinners, in making up a party for a stagecoach, or railroad car, so arrange matters as to exclude a minister, or any engaged Christian from their company. They feel uneasy at his presence, and manifest the same temper that we should witness, if some distinguished friend of their greatest enemy were present with them. How can this be accounted for, on any other principle, than that of enmity against God. With these ministers, or professors of religion, they have, perhaps, very little personal acquaintance; have never had any misunderstanding with them, nor has any personal controversy existed between them. It must be on account of the cause in which they are engaged, and the master whom they serve, they wish to avoid them.
Again. We naturally admire magnify the virtues and overlook the vices, of the enemies of those we hate. How enthusiastic are politicians in their admiration of the talents, and wisdom, and virtues of those who take sides with them, and are opposed to the election of their political enemy. If any man has an enemy, he regards it as an evidence of wisdom, in any one else, to be opposed to the same man. He is inclined greatly to overrate the number, and the talents, and the influence of those who are opposed to his enemy. If he hears of a few that are opposed to him, and among them any men of more than ordinary talents, he is apt to imagine that almost every body is opposed to him, and especially all the talented and virtuous part of the community, and to think that nobody favors him but the weak, the servile, and the interested.