ROMANS 8:7,8
"Because the carnal mind is enmnity against God for it is not subject to the law
of God, neither indeed, can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

BUT it might appear from the 7th verse, that the peace spoken of in the last verse is peace with God - for the enmity which is here ascribed to the opposite state of being carnally-minded, is enmity against God. Where there is enmity between two parties, each is displeased with the other; and the enmity of the carnal mind thus involves in it two distinct particulars.

First, it implies a feeling on the part of him who is its owner of hostility against God, and this necessarily comes out of the very definition of the carnal mind. It were a contradiction in terms, to say otherwise of the carnal mind than that it was enmity against God - for how, if all its preferences be toward the creature, can it be otherwise affected toward that Creator, who looks with a jealous eye on all such preference, and fastens upon it the guilt of idolatry - how, if its regards are wholly directed to sense and time, can it be otherwise than in a state of disregard to Him who is a spirit and invisible? If the law of God be a law of supreme love toward Himself, how is it possible for that mind to be in subjection to such a law, whose affections are wholly set on the things and the interests of passing world? It not only is not subect to this law, but it cannot be so - else it were no longer carnal. It would instantly be stripped of this epithet, and become a different thing from what it was before, did it undergo a transference in its likings from the things that are made to Him who is the Maker of them all.

It has all the certainty in it of an identical proposition, when it is said of the carnal mind that it neither is nor can be subject to God’s law. Ere it become subject, it must resign its present nature and be carnal no longer. The epithet then will not apply to it; and though a mind before carnal should now have gathered upon it the character of heaven, and become a devoted and willing and most affectionate subject under the government of God - still it holds true of the carnal mind that it is not so subject, neither indeed can be. But it is not only logically true, that the carnal mind cannot be subject to God’s law - the same thing is also true physically and experimentally. There is no power in the mind by which it can change itself. It has a natural sovereignty, we admit, which extends a certain way over the doings of the outer man; but it has no such sovereignty over the desires of the inner man. It can, for example, constrain the man in whom it resides to eat a sour apple rather than a sweet. But it cannot constrain him to like a sour apple rather than a sweet. There are many things which it finds to be practicable, which it does not find to be palatable; and it has just as little power over the taste and affections of the mind toward God, as it has over the bodily organ of taste, or the law of its various relishes for the various food which is offered to it.

There are a thousand religious-looking things which can be done; but, without such a renewal of the spirit as the spirit itself cannot achieve - these things cannot be delighted in, cannot be rejoiced in. But if not rejoiced in, they really are not religious, however religious they may look. And this is the great moral helplessness, under which we labour. We can compel our feet to the house of God, but we cannot compel our feelings to a sacred pleasure in its exercises. We can take a voluntary part in the music of its psalms, but we cannot force into our hearts the melody of praise. We can bid our hands away from depredation and violence, but we cannot bid away the appetite of covetousness from our bosoms. We can refrain ourselves from the infliction of all outward hurt upon our neighbour; but tell me, if we can so muster and so dispose of our affections at the word of command, as that we shall love him as we do ourselves.

And, ascending from the second great commandment to the first great commandment of the law, we can, it may be thought, keep the Sabbaths of the Lord and acquit ourselves of many of the drudgeries of a carnal obedience - while, instead of loving Him with all our heart and soul and strength and mind, there exists against Him an antipathy, which we can no more extirpate, than we can cause a sycamine tree to be plucked up by the roots at the utterance of a voice - So that, in reference to the law which claims a supremacy over the heart, and taketh cognizance of all its affections, we are not and we cannot be subject to.
And here I am sensible, that, when I charge you with a positive enmity against God - when I say that He is not merely the object of indifference, but of hatred - when I affirm of the human heart, not merely a light and heedless unconcern about Him, but also the virulency of a strong hostile affection against Him - I might not, in all this assertion, obtain the exact or the willing respondency of your own consciences. You may be ready to answer, that, really we are not at all aware of any thing half so foul or so enormous at work in our bosoms, as any ill-will towards God. We may be abundantly regardless of Him and of His laws; but we feel not any thing that approaches to a resentful emotion excited within us by His name. We may not think of Him often; and perhaps are very well satisfied to do without Him, if He would but let us alone. But, examine ourselves as we may, we can detect no affirmative malignity in our affections towards Him; and for once we have lighted upon a case, where the dogmata of a stern theology are really not at one with the decisions of our own intimate and personal experience.

Now on this we have to observe, that the greatest enemy whom you have in the world will excite no malevolent feeling in your heart, so long as you do not think of him. All the time that he is absent from your remembrance, he has no more power to stir up the painful and the bitter feeling of hostility within you, than if he were blotted out from the map of existence. And so let it not be wondered at, that you should not be ruffled out of your complacency by the thought of God, when in fact, for days or hours together, the thought is utterly away from you - that no acrimony about Him should ever disturb you, during the whole of that period, when at play or pleasing yourselves with His gifts, the Giver is wholly unminded - that, instead of carrying the tone or the aspect of an enraged adversary toward God or any one else, you should simply appear in the light of an easy comfortable good-humoured man, while, busied with the enjoyments of life, you have no room in your regards for Him who gave the life, and scattered these enjoyments over it. When one is in a deep and dreamless slumber, his very resentments are hushed, along with all his other sensibilities, into oblivion; and though in the latent dormitory within, there should lie a fell and unextinguishable hatred against the deadliest of his foes, yet even the presence of that foe would awaken no asperity; and, while under the immediate eye of him whom with implacable revenge he could call forth to the field of mutual extermination, might he lie in all the meekness of infancy.

And so of you who are not awake unto God - who are sunk in dullest apathy about Him and all His concerns - who, profoundly asleep and forgetful, are really no judges of the recoil that would come upon your spirits, did He but stand before you in all His characters of uncompromising truth, and inflexible justice, and sacred jealousy, and awful unapproachable holiness. By the thought of this Being you are not disturbed, because, steeped in the lethargy of nature, it is a thought that does not come with a realizing touch upon your perceptions. You may even hear His name, and this may stir up some vague conception of an unseen Spirit; and you still may have no feeling of that enmity which our text has charged upon you. But the conception of whom or of what we would ask ! - Is it of the true God in His true attributes - or a being of your own imagination? Is It of that God who is a Spirit, and claims of you those spiritual services which are due unto the character that belongs to Him? Is it of Him, the very view and aspect of whom would mar all your earthly gratifications, or put them utterly to flight, because of His paramount demand for the affections and pursuits of godliness? Oh how little do we know of ourselves, or of the mysteries of our inner man, which may lie hid and dormant for years - till some untried circumstances shall form the occasion that proves us, and reveals to us all which is in our hearts.

And thus the manifestation to our understandings of God, not as we fancy Him to be, but of God as He actually is, would call forth of its hiding-place the unappeasable enmity of nature against Him; and would make it plain to the conscience of the carnal man, how little sufferance he hath for the God that would bereave him of his present affections, and implant others in their room. The disrelish would be just as strong, as are the disrelish and opposition between the life of sense and the life of faith. Did God reveal Himself now to the unconverted sinner, He would strike the same arrow into his heart, that will be felt by the condemned sinner, who eyes on the day of reckoning the sacredness and the majesty of that Being whom he has offended. You have heard Him by the hearing of the ear, and yet remain unconvinced of nature’s enmity. Could you say with Job that now mine eye seeth, then would you see cause with him, wherefore you should abhor yourself, and repent in dust and in ashes.

Ver. 8
, My remarks have been hitherto on the hostility that is in our hearts towards God; but this verse leads us to consider the hostility that is in God’s heart toward us. If we cannot please God we necessarily displease Him; nor need we to marvel, why all they who are in the flesh are the objects of His dissatisfaction. We maybe still in the flesh, yet do a thousand things, as I said before, that, in the letter and in the exterior of them, bear a visible conformity to God’s will, and yet cannot be pleasing to Him. They may be done from the dread of His power - they may be done under the trembling apprehension of a threatened penalty - they may be done to appease the restlessness of an alarmed conscience - they may be done under the influence of a religion that derives all its power over us from education or custom, or the exactions of a required and established decency; and yet not be done with the concurrence of the heart, not be done from a liking either to the task or to the bidder of it, not from a delight in the commandment but from the slavish fear of that master who issued it. And however multiplied the offerings may be, which we laid on the altar of such a reluctant obedience as this, they will not and cannot be pleasing to God. Would any father amongst you be satisfied with such a style of compliance and submission from your own children? Would the labour of their hands be counted enough, though the love of their hearts was withheld from you? Would you think that you had all out of them which was desirable, because you had as much of drudgery as was laid upon them - however grievous you saw was the distaste which they felt for you and for all your requirements? If it were quite palpable, that their inclinations were in a state of revolt against you - would you think it ample compensation, that you still could restrain their outward movements, and by the force or terror of your authority, could compel from them the homage of all their services? Oh let us know if you could sit down in complacency, because of such an obedience from your own children! And if you but saw that in their hearts, they were only pining and murmuring and feeling resentfully, because of the utter repugnance which they felt to you and to your exactions, were it not the most wretched of all atonements, that still the bidding was executed, and still the task was performed by them?

And it is thus that I would like to reach the hearts of the careless, with the alarm of a guilt and a danger, far greater than they have ever been aware of. I should like them to understand, that they are indeed the haters of God - that they hate Him for what He is, and hate Him for what He requires at their hands; and though this hostile propensity of theirs lies hid in deep insensibility, when, amidst the bustle and the engrossment and the intense pursuits or gratifications of the world, there is nothing to call it out into distinct exhibition - yet that a demonstration of the divine will or the divine character is all which is needed, to bring up the latent virulence that is lurking in the bosom, and to convict the now placid and amiable man thathe is indeed an enemy to his Maker.
And in these circumstances, is his Maker too an enemy to him. The frown of an offended Lawgiver resteth on every one, who lives in habitual violation of His first and greatest commandment. There is a day of reckoning that awaits him. There is a true and unerring judgment which is in reserve for him. That enmity which now perhaps is a secret to himself, will become manifest on the great occasion when the secrets of all hearts shall be laid open; and the justice of God will then be vindicated, in dealing with him as an enemy.

Such is the condition, and such are the prospects of all who remain what Nature made them - who, still in the flesh, have not been translated to that new moral existence into which all are ushered who are born again; and who by simply being lovers of the creature more than of the Creator, prove themselves to be still carnally- minded and to be the heirs of death. And it is only by taking a deep view of the disease, that you can be led adequately to estimate the remedy. There is a way of transition from the carnal to the spiritual. There is a distinct and applicable call, that may be addressed even to the farthest off in alienation; and which, if he will hear and follow, shall transform him from one of the children of this world to one of the children of light. The trumpet giveth not an uncertain sound, for it declares the remission of sin through the blood of Jesus, and repentance through the Spirit which is at His giving; and your faith in the one will infallibly bring down upon you, all the aids and influences of the other. To you who are afar off, is this salvation preached; and the grand connecting tie by which it is secured and appropriated to your soul, is simply the credit that you give to the word of this testimony.

Many feel not the disease; and so all the proclamations of grace pass unheeded by. Many listen to them as they would to a pleasant song; but the form of sound words is enough for them, and the realities which these words express never find admittance into their bosoms. But some there are whose ears and whose eyes are opened - who are made to hear with effect, and to behold the wondrous things that are contained in the word of God. With them the gospel is something more than a sound or an imagination. To them it bears all the character of a great authentic transaction between Heaven and Earth. And they see God as God in Christ waiting to be gracious; and they no longer stand in dread of a justice that is now most abundantly satisfied; and they can brave the contemplation of all the attributes, wherewith mercy to themselves is now blended in fullest harmony; and they rejoice to behold that the throne of Heaven is at once upheld in all its august dignity, and yet that even the chief of sinners has a warrant to approach it; and while they take to themselves the security that is guaranteed by the atonement on the cross, they feel how that very atonement affords most entire illustration of the sacredness of the Godhead. And thus, uniting peace to their own souls with glory to God in the highest; they experience a love which was before unfelt, which weans them from all their idolatrous affections, and translates them from the state of the carnally to that of the spiritually-minded.
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