صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

belly nor do they mind earthly things. This is the uniform representation of scripture respecting them. They are not the slaves of appetite, or passion, or lust, under any form, but they are the Lord's freemen. This is not only the representation of scripture but must of course be true from the nature of regeneration. Regeneration consists, let it be remembered, in the will's ceasing to be governed by the propensities of the flesh and committing itself to the good of being. If the Bible did not represent the regenerate as overcoming the world and the flesh, it would not only be inconsistent with itself, but also with matter of fact. It would not in such case recognize the nature of regeneration. We are now considering, not what is true of the mass of professing Christians, but what is and must be true of real saints. Of them it must be true that they do overcome the world and the flesh. While they live in the flesh they walk not after the flesh, for if they did they would not be saints. What is a religion worth that does not as a matter of fact overcome the flesh? The dominion of the flesh is sin, and does not the new birth imply a turning away from sin? Let it be forever understood that regeneration implies, not merely the conviction and the theory that the flesh ought to be overcome, but that it actually is overcome. The regenerate "do not sow to the flesh;" "do not live after the flesh;" "do not mind the flesh;" "do not war after the flesh;" "have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts;" "through the Spirit do mortify, (kill) the deeds of the body;" "keep under their bodies and bring them into subjection." This not only ought to be, but it must be the character of a true saint.

13. The sinner is overcome by the flesh. Self-indulgence is his law. Some one, or more, of the phrenological or constitutional impulses always controls his will. He not only "lives in the flesh, but walks after the flesh." He "fulfils the desires of the flesh and of the mind." He is "carried away with his own lusts and enticed." "His god is his belly" and "he minds earthly things." He "is in bondage to the flesh." This is his unfailing characteristic, that he is governed, not by the law of God, but by his own desires. He is the creature of impulse, and a sinner just because he is so. With him to conquer the flesh is matter of duty, of opinion, of theory, and not of actual performance and experience. He holds that he ought to overcome, but knows that he does not. He acknowledges the obligation in theory, but denies it in practice. He knows what he ought to do, but does it not. He knows what

a christian ought to be, but is aware that he is not what a christian ought to be. There seems to be an infatuation among sinners, those especially that profess to be christians. They can profess to be christians and yet know and acknowledge that they are not what christians ought to be, strangely assuming that a man can be and is a christian who is not what a christian ought to be: in other words that he can be a christian without possessing just that which constitutes a christian, to wit: a heart conformed to the intellect's appre1 hension of duty. This is just what makes a christian; not his seeing and acknowledging what he ought to be, but his actually doing his duty, his actually embracing and conforming to the truth. The deceived professor knows that he is not free, that he is in bondage to his flesh and his desires, but hopes on because he thinks that this is common to all christians. He sees and approves the truth and often resolves to overcome his flesh, but as in the seventh of Romans he "finds a law in his members warring against the law of his mind and bringing him into captivity to the law of sin in his members." He can resolve but does not carry out his resolves. When he resolves to do good evil is present with him and conquers him. Of all this he is conscious, but he has taken up the fatal delusion that this was Paul's experience at the time he wrote this chapter and consequently that it must be the experience of all christians. He does not run his eye along into the eighth chapter and see the contrast between the experience there portrayed and affirmed to be the experience of all christians. He does not observe that the apostle is designing in these two chapters to contrast a christian with a legal and self-righteous experience, but holds on to his delusion and observes not that the apostle begins the eighth chapter by the affirmation that all who are in Christ Jesus are delivered from the bondage of which he was speaking in the seventh chapter and no longer walk after the flesh but after the Spirit; that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has actually made them free from the law of sin and death which is in their members. How infinitely strange that these chapters are so misunderstood and perverted. And how monstrous and how melancholy the fact that the great mass of professing christians to this day recognize the seventh and not the eighth chapter of Romans as their own experience! According to this the new birth or regeneration does not break the power of the propensities over the will. The truth is and must not be disguised that they have not any just idea

[ocr errors]

of regeneration. They mistake conviction for regeneration. They are so enlightened as to perceive and affirm their obligation to deny the flesh, and often resolve to do it, but in fact do it not. They only struggle with the flesh, but are continually worsted and brought into bondage; and this they call a regenerate state. O sad. What then is regeneration good for? What does it avail? The bible represents regeneration as a "being born from above," "being born of God," and expressly affirms that "whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world," and affirms that "whosoever is born of God does not commit sin and can not sin because his seed (God's seed) remaineth in him so that he can not sin because he is born of God;" "that he is a new creature, that old things are passed away and that all things are become new;" "that he is alive from the dead;" that he has "crucified the flesh with its affections and lust;" that "he is dead to sin and alive unto God," and many such like representations: and yet infinitely strange to tell, the seventh chapter of Romans is recognized as a christian experience in the face of the whole bible and in opposition to the very nature of regeneration and the experience of every true saint. The sinner is a sinner just and only because he knows his duty and does it not. He apprehends the law of the intelligence, but minds the impulses of his sensibility. This is the very character which the apostle is so graphically portraying in the seventh chapter of Romans. He could not possibly have given a more graphic picture of a sinner when he is enlightened and yet enslaved by his propensities. It is a full length portrait of a sinner enlightened and struggling for liberty, and yet continually falling and floundering under the galling bondage of his own lusts. And that this should be considered the experience of a regenerate heart! O horrible! How many thousands of souls have been blinded by this delusion and gone down to hell! And what is worse still, commentators and many ministers, because this is their own experience, are still holding fast to and inculcating this delusion.

Now let it be remembered that just the difference between saints and sinners, and especially deceived professors, is expressed and clearly illustrated in the seventh and eighth chapters of Romans; and to do this was the very design of the writer of this epistle. The difference consists in just this: They both see what they ought to do; the one does it in fact, while the other only resolves to do it but does it not. They both have bodies and both have all the constitutional propen

sities. But the saint overcomes them all. He has the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him he is delivered from the body of sin and of death and made free from the law of sin in his members. He is a conqueror and more than a conqueror. The sinner only cries out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? But he can not add, "I thank God through Jesus Christ my Lord," I am delivered, which is the evident meaning of the apostle, as appears from what immediately follows in the beginning of the eighth chapter. The sinner sees his captivity and groans under it, but does not escape. They are both tempted. The saint overcomes through Christ. The sinner is overcome. The sinner is conquered instead of being like the saint a conqueror. He can not exultingly say with the saint. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death," but still complains with the captive, "I see a law in my members warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!"



15. The saints overcome Satan.

This is expressly taught in the scriptures. "I write unto you fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father."-1 John 2: 13. The wicked are characterized as the "children of the devil;" "as led by him captive at his will," "as being the subjects of Satan, the god of this world," and as having Satan ruling in their hearts.

But the saints are represented as being set at liberty from his power, as being delivered, not from his temptations, but actually saved from his dominion. The difference between the saint and the sinner in this respect is represented in the scriptures as consisting, not in the fact that sinners are tempted while saints are not, but in this, that while Satan tempts both the saint and the sinner, he actually overcomes the sinner and the deceived professor and leads him captive at his will. The true saint through faith and strength in Christ overcomes and is more than a conqueror. The saint through Christ triumphs while the sinner yields to his infernal influence and is bound fast in his infernal chain.

16. The true saint denies himself. Self-denial must be his characteristic just for the reason that regeneration implies this. Regeneration, as we have seen, consists in turning away the heart or will from the supreme choice of self-gratification to a choice of the highest well-being of God and of the universe. This is denying self. This is abandoning selfindulgence and pursuing or committing the will and the whole being to an opposite end. This is the dethroning of self and the enthroning of God in the heart. Self-denial does not consist, as some seem to imagine, in acts of outward austerity, in an ascetic and penance-doing course of starvation and mere legal and outward retrenchment, in wearing plain clothes and using plain language, or in wearing a coat with one button, and in similar acts of "will worship and voluntary humility and neglecting the body;" but self-denial consists in the actual and total renunciation of selfishness in the heart. It consists in ceasing wholly to live for self, and can

« السابقةمتابعة »