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the carnal mind is enmity against God. So then they that
had committed, he adds an acknowledgement of his native corruption. “For I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me; Against thee and thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight: Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Understand the Psalmist in the above sense and the connexion is clear, the confession full, and the climax regular and grand. We understand him as saying, I have committed sin ; I have not only sinned, but my sin has been of the most daring character, it has been committed against thee O God, Majesty of heaven! yea, I confess more ; I have not only done wickedly, but my very nature is sinful; these outbreaking sins have been only the streams issuing from a fountain of corruption within, existing in my very nature which was shapen in iniquity and conceived in sin. When
muther conceived me, she conceived a sinful nature, and when I was formed into an organized being, my moral shape or likeness, was after the form of iniquity ; i. e. in the image of a fallen spirit, and not after the image of God in which the first man was created.
Rom. viii. 7. “The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." The whole connexion in which this text stands, goes to show that by the “carnal mind” we are to understand the soul of man in its natural state, uprenewed by the quickening grace of God. The Apostle here notes the difference between a natural state and a renewed state. “ To be carnally minded is death, but to be spirtitually minded is life and peace ; for
are in the flesh, cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh if so be that the spirit of God dwell in you.” To be carnally minded then, is to be destitute of the spirit of God by which he renews and sanctifies the soul; hence, the carnal mind is one unrenewed by the spirit of God: not “ born of the spirit.” Now, that this carnal mind, or state of enmity against God is the natural state of the soul, is evident from its being opposed to a state of grace and salvation. The scriptures speak of a two fold state: our natural state, and a spiritual or renewed state. « That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit,” John
ii. 6. The first state must be our state by nature, the second state is a supernatural, gracious, and renewed state. The first state is a fleshly state in which we cannot please God; a carnal state, which is enmity against God; the second state is a state of reconciliation to God, a state of conformity to the divine will and likeness. Therefore, the carnal mind, which is enmity against God, being the natural state of the soul, it follows that man is by nature an enemy to God, or possesses a natural and inherent want of subjection or conformity to the divine law, which requires holiness in the inner parts. The texts above quoted, are to be regarded as mere specimens, of the many which, in similar language, describe the human soul in its natural state as a fallen spirit, full of wickedness, estranged from God, possessing unholy affections and passions.
V. Those scriptures which speak of the necessity, and describe the nature of regeneration, clearly imply the corruption of the human soul through the fall. John iii. 3. “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." that this text has reference to a moral change for the better, of some sort, we trust will not be denied by any; and that it is the change which constitutes the difference between a christian and a sinner, in the popular sense of these terms, appears
from a consideration of the agent by which the change is effected ; the spirit of God is the agent by which sinners are renewed and sanctified; hence, the Apostle says " he hath saved us by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. The words of Christ “ born again” exactly correspond to the words of the Apostle newing of the Holy Ghost," both implying the same change. That the necessity of such a change, as is implied by being born again, arises from the corruption of human nature, and not merely from the wickedness of human conduct, appears from the reason assigned by him, who “ knew what was in man,” “ that which is born of the spirit is spirit, and that which is born of the flesh is flesh. Marvel not that I said upto you ye must be born again.” Here the natural birth, which is of the flesh, and by which we are introduced into the world, is opposed to the spiritual birth by which we are introduced into the kingdom of God or church of Christ; and the necessity of the latter is made to depend upon the circumstances
of the former: we must be born again” because that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” to which an Apostle adds,“ they that are in the flesh cannot please God." From this it most unequivocally appears that we inherit something by natural birth, or by natural generation which excludes us from the kingdom of God, being naturally unfit for its possession and enjoyments, and this unfitness is by birth, and not by subsequent wicked conduct. Therefore, moral depravity, in its first stage, consists in something which we inherit, and not in what we do.
It is worthy of remark, that the change under consideration is termed a renewal, a new creation, &c.; terms which can have no meaning unless the change is in fact a reparation of lapsed human nature. Titus iii. 5. “He hath saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Col. iii. 9, 10. “ Ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him.” 2 Cor. v. 17. “ If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.” Eph. ii. 10. “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus.” Eph. iv. 24." And that ye put on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” These texts which are adduced merely as a specimen of the many which might be quoted on the same point, imply a renovation of nature as well as of life or conduct, and we repeat it, that they have no meaning, unless they imply a reparation of lapsed human nature; and if they imply this, the doctrine of inherent depravity is established.
To evade the force of this argument, and the consequences fatal to their system, which it must draw after it if admitted, universalists have sometimes referred the change commonly termed being born again, regeneration, &c. to the resurrection of the body ; maintaining that all will experience it on that auspicious morn when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised. This attempt at evasion is so futile as not to deserve a refutation, were it not that it is sometimes uttered with an appearance of sincerity, by men who, of all others, ought to be serious. It is a sufficient reply, however, to remark that every text above quoted, and many more which might be quoted, speak of a change which takes
place in this life. When Christ taught Nicodemus that he must be born again, he showed him that it must take place in this life, by terming it being born of water and of the spirit; the spirit working the change in the heart, and the water, externally applied in baptism, signifying the “washing of regeneration” within. And Paul who said, “they that are in the flesh “cannot please God,” also said to those who were yet living, “ye are not in the flesh but in the spirit.” Again the Apostle says, He hath saved us by the washing of regeneration--not, will save us, &c. We are his workmanship-not, shall be; ye have put off the old man and have put on the new man—not, will have, &c. &c.
VI. The corruption of human nature is proved by those scriptures which teach that there is in man remaining pollution, after justification or pardon.
2 Cor. vii. 1. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” On this text it may be remarked, first, that it is addressed to christians, as such. Secondly, the expresssion in the text, “ let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,"clearly supposes that they were not, or that it was possible that as christians they might not have been, cleansed from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and that they were not as perfect in holiness as was their privilege to be; there may be, therefore, remaining in man a degree of moral corruption after he is justified by faith, or las his sins forgiven. It also follows that there is, with man, such a thing as an imperfect state of holiness.
1 Thes. v. 23. “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul, and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This text supposes that those to whom it relates, were sanctified in part, and not in full; or, at least, it supposes tification in part and not in full, is a possible condition ; for it would be absurd to pray to be sanctified wholly if there were no such thing as being sanctified in part without being wholly sanctified. Furthermore, as the Thessalonians, to whom the Apostle wrote, were, beyond all dispute, believers
in Christ Jesus, it follows that men are not necessarily sactified wholly in spirit, soul and body, when they are converted to God; or when they are justified through the forgiveness of sin; hence, there may be a degree of unholiness remaining in the spirit, soul, and body after justification.
On this point Mr. Watson has given the testimony of his opinion in the following language. " That a distinction exists between a regenerate state, and a state of entire and perfect holiness, will be generally allowed. Regeneration, as we have seen, is concomitant with justification ; but the Apostles, in addressing the body of believers, in the churches to whom they wrote their epistles, set before them, both in their prayers they offer in their behalf
, and in the exhortations they administer, a still higher degree of deliverance from sin, as well as a higher growth of christian virtues."
Now, this remaining corruption in the hearts of believers, after the pardon of sin, is totally irreconcileable with the native purity or indifference of human nature. When God pardons a sinner, he forgives all his sins that have been committed in past life; hence if human nature is not corrupt, and if all sin consists in voluntary actions, when a sinner is pardoned there could be no remaining corruption, or pollution, and the soul would be just as holy, just as free from moral defilement, as it would be if sin had never stained the universe.
This puts the doctrine of Christian perfection on the ground of our native innocence and purity, and not on the ground of that blood which “ cleanseth from all sin.” Though the Methodist Episcopal Church have been proverbial for holding and preaching the doctrine of perfection, yel it was never held among us on this ground, and we should in our very souls deprecate the day when, in this form, it should find its way into the church.
VII. The whole gospel economy proceeds on the ground of man's natural depravity, or corruption of nature. It will not be denied, that the whole gospel system is founded on the mission of Christ, and proceeds to offer salvation to the human family on the ground of what he has done and suffered for us. He came to “ seek and save that which was lost" -he
gave himself a ransom for all," and tasted “ death for every man.” That" as by the offence of one" (Adam) "judg