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The war of the flesh and the spirit.
GALAT. V. 17.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the
Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other : So that ye cannot do the things that ye
SERM. HIS distinction of flesh and spirit, and XXII. the great oppofition between them,
is entirely new under the Gospel, wherein it is made so much use of that it runs through the whole ftile of the new Testament. The heathen Philosophers did indeed diftinguish nicely, between the sensitive appetite which is common to us with brutes, and that rational faculty which they found in themselves, (i. e.) between sense and reason; and this was loob vious they could not miss it. They saw a mighty difference between these two, that they often clashed and disagreed ; they found themselves drawn two different ways at once by an
opposite force, and that the violence of their S E R M. sensual appetites hurried them on to the doing XXII. of things contrary to the dictates of their rear m fon, and the full conviction of their minds; this they felt and complained of; but they little imagined what was the first spring and true cause of all this contradiction within us į namely, that there are two distinct
parts of our frame of a very different nature, endued with contràry qualities, and opposite in all their inclinations and tendencies. This is peculiar to the Gospel, and such a key of knowledge, as opens to us those difficulties both of nature and grace, which were locke
from the whole race of mankind before: And no man is áware at first reading how far this one text leads us into the knowledge both of ourselves, and of religion in general. The Hef luftetb against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Insomuch that I would put this one saying of St. Paul's in the ballance with the united moral wisdom of the heathen world,
For as it supposes the original of our corruption by the fall, which they knew nothing of, so likewise it intimates to us that there are two very distinct parts of our make, and contrary in their whole nature. The true feat of this gteåt corruption of humanity, with the exact manner and cause of it, namely the contradiction of that fleshly part to the genuine dictates of the spirit, which then becomes parK 2
SER M.taker of its corruption, when it yields and is
violence of our fleshly inclinations, which like
This is the philosophy of the text, this is
ist, I shall consider a little more particularly, what is here meant by flesh and spirit.
2dly, I shall consider in what instances they Serm. are contrary to one another, and the nature XXII. of their opposition.
3dly, I shall speak something as briefly as I can, to those several things which are either exprefly contained in this text, or directly deducible from it.
1. As to the first then. By the flesh is here meant not only those bodily appetites which are common to us with brutes, but likewise those irregular passions and affections of the soul, which are proper only to rational creatures. By the spirit is signified, that most refined and excellent part of us, by which we are more immediately formed after the image of God: That which the Hebrews expressed by the word Ruah, that immaterial immortal part of us, which is the seat of the derstanding and will; in opposition to Napash, the seat of all carnal desires and affections ; (i. e.) the sensitive soul as it includes all those evil inclinations of the mind, which proceed from any compliance with sensual appetites, and as far as it is tainted by any intercourse, or commerce with them.
But because it is a distinction of no small use, both in the theory and practice of religion, that we may apprehend the difference more exactly, we must consider that it is an opinion founded on very good reason, that our frame is composed of three distinct parts, each of them severally expressed by St. Paul, in i Theff, v. 23. And I pray And I pray God jour whole
SER. M. fpirit, and foul, and body be preserved blameless, III. unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, The
Greek word is plainer to this purpose, it calls thefe three parts ολόκλερον υμών the whole of you. It is not likely that St. Paul here would have made use of a frivolous and groundless distinction with so much folemnity: And a learned man, in his comment upon the text, remarks, that the same difference might be obferved from the words of the creation of
man, where there is mention made distinctly of the dust of the earth, the living soul, and the breath of life; and shews withal, how this text of St, Paul's was fo taken by the learnedest fathers of the church; which is not at all to be wondered at, since I cannot see how it can be understood any otherwise, without a needless taut tology.
Now by the body we are to understand this bulky weight of flesh and blood, this unweildy grosser part of us which we fee and feel as we do any other body, and lies as plain and obvious to our senses as any other mass, à stock or a stone,
By the spirit is fignified that sprightly im material part of us without bulk or quantity, not confined even to motion; which comes
. immediately oat of the hands of God like himself a pure uncompounded being, the only seat of our understanding and reason, which the Greeks exprest, by the tò vynuovizov, the commanding principal part, τον εν ημιν θεόν, the God in us; and the Latins by particulam auræ