ROMANS. viii, 5.
"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh
but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit."

I SHOULD like if I could give you a clear understanding of the difference that there is, between your simply dwelling in the flesh as yonr tenement - and your being immersed, with the practical consent of your will and mind, in those pursuits and pleasures which are natural to the flesh.
And the first thing which might occur, for the illustration of this difference, is to offer, as expressive of it, that distinction of meaning which one feels between the two phrases, ‘ to be in the flesh’ and ‘ to be after the flesh.’ The one may be thought simply to imply, that the flesh is the place of the soul's present residence; and the other, that all the soul’s inclinations and energies, are in full prosecution of those objects which minister to the appetites of the flesh.

But then you have the very phrase of being in the flesh applied in Scripture not to the state of one who barely occupies the flesh as his present tabernacle, but of one who delights in the flesh as his congenial and much-loved element. And it must be in this latter sense of the phrase that it occurs at the distance of a very few verses from the one one submitted to us - when it is said, that they who are in the flesh cannot please God and when it is further said, that ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.

At the same time it must be remarked, that, in other passages of the Bible, the phrase of being in the flesh denotes the soul’s simple occupation of a fleshly tabernacle, and not the soul’s immersion in fleshly habits or fleshly desires. The apostle who said that Christ liveth in me, also says I live in the flesh; and that to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. In this sense too, even Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh; and it was a most essential point of orthodoxy that He had come in the flesh. In both of these instances, flesh was the temporary abode ; but in neither of them, was it the chosen or the much-loved home. It is true of both, that, though in the flesh, they walked not after the flesh; and though we have not been so fortunate, as to find the former phrase to be in the Bible universally characteristic of nothing more than simple occupancy - yet we believe of the latter phrase, that it is uniformly descriptive of that state, in which a man abandons himself to the propensities of nature, and lives in the full prosecution of its delights or its interests.

And the distinction between these two things, is very well marked by the apostle within the compass of one verse. “Though we walk in the flesh, we do not walk according to the flesh - we do not war after the flesh." And it is well, that, in this fifth verse, we have a descriptive clause, by which we are presented with something like a definition of being after the flesh. They who are after the flesh, mind the things of it. It is not that the flesh assails them with its suggestions, for this it does, and often as forcibly with those who resist the suggestions as with those who yield to them. But it is that their mind follows after the flesh - that they make a study and a business of its enjoyments - that they prosecute them in thought, in purpose, and in will. Some there are, who dwell in the flesh, and so are surrounded with the importunity of its delights and temptations; but who nevertheless abide in the firm attitude of withstanding them all. Their mind is not after the flesh, but in opposition to it. But for these some, there are the many, who are dragged willingly along in that very direction in which the flesh draws them - who, not only resign themselves implicitly to the force of its instigations; but who, even in their hours of calm and dispassionate exemption from them, are in some way labouring or devising for the pleasures and aecommodations of the perishable body - whose mind, both in its likings and in the exercise of its faculties, is wholly given over to the pursuit of these things.

What the things are, we may learn from the apostle John - when he bids us love not the world nor the things that are in the world; and when he comprehends these things in the one summary description of all that is in the world, which he maketh to consist of the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye and the pride of life. Thus are we to understand of all those who are after the flesh, that either, as slaves, they are tyrannized over by the master-idols of sensuality or avarice or ambition; Or that, with a sort of free and more sovereign agency, they at least give themselves up to the object of providing for these gratifications - that, if not dragged after them by the force of appetite, they at least drive after them, and that, of spontaneous and withal of steady and settled choice.
And thus, in the habitual preference of their mind as well as in the propensities of their animal system, are they altogether entitled to the denomination of worldly. And there is one thing that you would do well to advert unto. It is not necessary that you mind all the things of the flesh, in order to constitute you a carnal man. It is enough to fasten this character upon you, that you have given yourself over to the indulgence or the pursuit, even of so few as one of these things. A miser may not be a debaucher, and neither the one nor the other may be an aspiring politician. But whatever the reigning passion may be, if it have the effect of attaching you to some one object that is in the world, and which with the world will terminate and perish - then still your mind is in subjection to an idol, and the death of the carnally minded is your inheritance and your doom.

Be not deceived then, ye men, who engrossed with the cares and observant of all the sobrieties of business, are not addicted to the profligacies of dissipation - nor ye, who, heedless of wealth’s accumulations, can mix an occasional generosity with the squanderings of intemperance and riot - nor ye, who, alike exempted from sordid avarice or debasing sensuality, have yet, in the pursuit of an ascendancy over the minds and the measures of your fellow-men, made power the reigning felicity of your existence - nor yet even ye, who, without any settled aim after one or other of these gratifications, fluctuate in giddy unconcern from one of this world’s frivolities to another. None of you mind all the things of the flesh; yet each of you minds one or other of these things, and that to the entire practical exclusion of the things of the Spirit from the preference of your habitual regards. ‘We do not charge you with a devotion of heart to all those things in the world, which are opposite to the love of the Father - any more than we charge you, with idolatrously falling down in obeisance to all the divinities of a heathen polytheism. But still if onlyone of these divinities be your god, this were enough to constitute you an idolater, and to convict you of a sacrilegious disownal of the King who is eternal and immutable. And so your one earthly appetite, though free from the tyranny of all the others - your one habit of ungodliness, though it be the only one that breaks out into visible expression in the history of your life - of itself renders you a carnal man; of itself exiles you from the spiritual territory; of itself proves that you are still one of the children of this world, and that you have not passed from death unto life. ‘They who are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.’

The man to whom this character belongeth is as effectually tabernacled in flesh, as he who is altogether carnal; and the natural tendencies of his constitution to evil, may be as strong and as urgent as those of the latter. By temperament, for instance, he might have as great a taste for luxury - by original disposition, he might be as apt to rejoice in grandeur or in wealth; and there be spontaneously within him, the same kindlings of ambition, or the same grovellings of sensual and avaricious desire. But though he feels these impulses, yet he walketh not after them; and that just because his mind is wholly set against them - whereas the mind of the other goeth wholly along with them. It is the direction of that sovereign faculty the will, which explains the difference. If this be enlisted on the side of the flesh, as it is with every unconverted man, then he sinneth wilfully. If this be enlisted on the side of the Spirit, as it is with every man who hath truly turned him unto the Lord Jesus Christ - then he may sin accidentally; and, in some moment of sleep or of surprise, he may be overtaken; and ere the will, as it were, has had time to rally and to recover, some outpost may have been carried, and even some advantage have been gained to the length of a most humiliating overthrow. But deep is the grief, that is thereby awakened; and strenuous is the resistance, that is thereby summoned into the future warfare; and heavy is that mourning of sackloth and of ashes, wherewith the soul of the penitent offender is afflicted; and though he hath stumbled on the way of temptation, yet utterly he refuses to walk therein - so giving testimony to the mode, in which the leading tendencies of his spirit have most painfully and most offensively been thwarted by the momentary power and assault of his great adversary; and that the whole drift of his choosing and deliberating and purposing faculties, is indeed on the side of God and the side of righteousness.

The remark that we made however about the things of the flesh, is not applicable to the things of the Spirit. A giving up of the mind to but one thing of the flesh, makes you a carnal man. But a spiritual man gives up himself not to one thing, but to all the things of the Spirit. To be the servant of any other master than God, marks you an idolater; and, for this purpose, it is not necessary that you should obey all the masters who arc apart from God or hostile to God. But to be the servant of God Himself, you must obey Him in all things - you must aspire at least, and that in firmness and in truth, at universal conformity - you must mind, not merely one thing, but all the things which He authoritatively lays upon you. And these are just the things of the Spirit, whose fruit is not in any one branch of righteousness, or in any specific number of them - but whose fruit is in all righteousness and goodness and truth. His office is to put the law in your heart, and so to give you a taste and a liking for all its acquirements. It is not enough that you maintain the sobrieties of human conduct, if not its equities also. It is not enough that you be strict in honour, if not also kind and gentle in humanity. It is not enough that you excel your fellows in all the virtues of society - you must be further arrayed in the virtues of sacredness.

And neither is it enough that a general sabbath complexion he upon your history - You must proceed on Christianity being the religion of your life, being the guide and the ornament of your daily conversation - a mingling ingredient., which diffuses itself throughout the mass of your ordinary affairs - a light that sheds its pure and celestial tint over the whole of your path; and leaves not one little space in the field of humanity unirradiated by its beams.
You have already heard me expatiate on the difficulty of ascertaining the real state and character of one’s mind, by a direct examination of it; and if the immediate question were put to the inner man, whether he minded the things of the flesh or those of the Spirit, a clear answer might not so readily be obtained - and that, more especially, as they who arc spiritual often feel on the one hand the instigations of the flesh; and they who are carnal have at times the visitation upon their heart, of a wish and an aspiration and an effort however ineffectual after a life of sacredness. It is well then, that this verse supplies us with a test for the resolving of this ambiguity. They who mind the things of the flesh, arc they who walk after the flesh; and they who mind the things of the Spirit, are they who walk after the Spirit.

With both classes, there maybe the inward struggle of the opposite and conflicting elements - the one not being totally exempted from evil inclinations, and the other not being totally bereft of their longing after godliness. When we look only within, it may be hard to say from the fight that is going on, which of these two elements shall prevail. But this may be decisively gathered, if not from the battle itself, at least from the issue of the battle; or, in other words, from the way in which it terminates upon the conduct. The spiritual man is urged by the corrupt propensities of his nature - nevertheless he follows not after them, and this from that preponderance of motive and of inward power on the side of what is good, which marks his mind to be set on the things of the Spirit. The carnal man is urged by the voice of conscience, and its remonstrances against all that is evil - nevertheless he obeys it not in deed, and this from that prevalency of force and of impulse on the side of what is corrupt, which marks his mind to be set on the things of the flesh. The working of the inner mechanism is not palpable. But the result of that working on the outward history is so; and thus from the stream do we learn the nature of the fotintain, and by the test of man's fruits do we know them.
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