Delivered on Sabbath Morning, April 22, 1855, by the
"The carnal mind is enmity against God"Romans 8:7.
his is a very solemn indictment which the Apostle Paul here prefers against the carnal mind. He declares it to be enmity against God. When we consider what man once was, only second to the angels, the companion of God, who walked with him in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day; when we think of him as being made in the very image of his Creator, pure, spotless, and unblemished, we cannot but feel bitterly grieved to find such an accusation as this preferred against us as a race. We may well hang our harps upon the willows, while we listen to the voice of Jehovah solemnly speaking to his rebellious creature. "How art thou fallen from heaven, thou son of the morning!" "Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy coveringthe workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee, and thou hast sinned; therefore, I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire."
Almighty, thine this universal frame,
Thus wondrous fair; thyself how wondrous then!"
Yes, but mark, what is true one day is not false another; "the carnal mind is enmity against God" at all times. The wolf may sleep, but it is a wolf still. The snake with its azure hues, may slumber amid the flowers, and the child may stroke its slimy back, but it is a serpent still; it does not change its nature, though it is dormant. The sea is the house of storms, even when it is glassy as a lake; the thunder is still the mighty rolling thunder, when it is so much aloft that we hear it not. And the heart, when we perceive not its ebullitions, when it belches not forth its lava, and sendeth not forth the hot stones of its corruption, is still the same dread volcano. At all times, at all hours, at every moment, (I speak this as God speaketh it), if ye are carnal, ye are each one of you enmity against God.
Another thought concerning the universality of this statement. The whole of the mind is enmity against God. The text says, "The carnal mind is enmity against God." That is, the entire man, every part of himevery power, every passion. It is a question often asked, "What part of man was injured by the fall?" Some think that the fall was only felt by the affections, and that the intellect was unimpaired; this they argue from the wisdom of man, and the mighty discoveries he has made, such as the law of gravitation, the steam-engine, and the sciences. Now, I consider these things as being a very mean display of wisdom, compared with what is to come in a hundred years, and very small compared with what might have been, if man's intellect had continued in its pristine condition. I believe that the fall crushed man entirely, albeit, when it rolled like an avalanche upon the mighty temple of human nature, some shafts were still left undestroyed, and amidst the ruins you find here and there, a flute, a pedestal, a cornice, a column, not quite broken, yet the entire structure fell, and its most glorious relics are fallen ones, levelled in the dust. The whole of man is defaced. Look at our memory; is it not true that the memory is fallen? I can recollect evil things far better than those which savor of piety. I hear a ribald song; that music of hell shall jar in my ear when gray hairs shall be upon my head. I hear a note of holy praise; alas! it is forgotten! For memory graspeth with an iron hand ill things, but the good she holdeth with feeble fingers. She suffereth the glorious timbers from the forest of Lebanon to swim down the stream of oblivion, but she stoppeth all the draff that floateth from the foul city of Sodom. She will retain evil, she will lose good. Memory is fallen. So are the affections. We love everything earthly better than we ought; we soon fix our heart upon a creature, but very seldom on the Creator; and when the heart is given to Jesus, it is prone to wander. Look at the imagination, too. Oh! how can the imagination revel, when the body is in an ill condition? Only give man something that shall well nigh intoxicate him; drug him with opium; and how will his imagination dance with joy! Like a bird uncaged, how will it mount with more than eagles' wings! He sees things he had not dreamed of even in the shades of night. Why did not his imagination work when his body was in a normal statewhen it was healthy? Simply because it is depraved; and until he had entered a foul elementuntil the body had begun to quiver with a kind of intoxicationthe fancy would not hold its carnival. We have some splendid specimens of what men could write, when they have been under the accursed influence of ardent spirits. It is because the mind is so depraved that it loves something which puts the body into an abnormal condition; and here we have a proof that the imagination itself has gone astray. So with the judgementI might prove how ill it decides. So might I accuse the conscience, and tell you how blind it is, and how it winks at the greatest follies. I might review all our powers, and write upon the brow of each one, "Traitor against heaven! traitor against God!" The whole "carnal mind is enmity against God."
Now, my hearers, "the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants;" but whenever I find a certain book much held in reverence by our Episcopalian brethren, entirely on my side, I always feel the greatest delight in quoting from it. Do you know I am one of the best churchmen in the world; the very best, if you will judge me by the articles, and the very worst, if you measure me in any other way. Measure me by the articles of the Church of England, and I will not stand second to any man under heaven's blue sky in preaching the gospel contained in them; for if there be an excellent epitome of the gospel, it is to be found in the articles of the Church of England. Let me show you that you have not been hearing strange doctrine. Here is the 9th article, upon Original or Birth Sin: "Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam; (as the Pelagians do vainly talk); but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and, therefore, in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek, phronema sarkos, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin." I want nothing more. Will any one who believes in the Prayer Book dissent from the doctrine that "the carnal mind is enmity against God?"
III. I have said that I would endeavor, in the third place, to show the great enormity of this guilt. I do fear, my brethren, that very often when we consider our state, we think not so much of the guilt as of the misery. I have sometimes read sermons upon the inclination of the sinner to evil, in which it has been very powerfully proved, and certainly the pride of human nature has been well humbled and brought low; but one thing always strikes me, if it is left out, as being a very great omission; viz.the doctrine that man is guilty in all these things. If his heart is against God, we ought to tell him it is his sin; and if he cannot repent, we ought to show him that sin is the sole cause of his disabilitythat all his alienation from God is sinthat as long as he keeps from God it is sin. I fear many of us here must acknowledge that we do not charge the sin of it to our own consciences. Yes, say we, we have many corruptions. Oh! yes. But we sit down very contented. My brethren, we ought not to do so. The having those corruptions is our crime which should be confessed as an enormous evil; and if I, as a minister of the gospel, do not press home the sin of the thing, I have missed what is the very virus of it. I have left out the very essence, if I have not shown that it is a crime. Now, "The carnal mind is enmity against God." What a sin it is! This will appear in two ways. Consider the relation in which we stand to God, and then remember what God is; and after I have spoken of these two things, I hope you will see, indeed, that it is a sin to be at enmity with God.
What is God to us? He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth; he bears up the pillars of the universe; his breath perfumes the flowers; his pencil paints them; he is the author of this fair creation; "we are the sheep of his pasture; he hath made us, and not we ourselves." He stands to us in the relationship of a Maker and Creator; and from that fact he claims to be our King. He is our legislator, our law-maker; and then, to make our crime still worse and worse, he is the ruler of providence; for it is he who keeps up from day to day. He supplys our wants; he keeps the breath within our nostrils; he bids the blood still pursue its course through the veins; he holdeth us in life, and preventeth us from death; he standeth before us, our creator, our king, our sustainer, our benefactor, and I ask, is it not a sin of enormous magnitudeis it not high treason against the emperor of heavenis it not an awful sin, the depth of which we cannot fathom with the line of all our judgmentthat we, his creatures, dependent upon him, should be at enmity with God?
But the crime may seem to be worse when we think of what God is. Let me appeal personally to you in an interrogatory style, for this has weight with it. Sinner! why art thou at enmity with God? God is the God of love; he is kind to his creatures; he regards you with his love of benevolence; for this very day his sun hath shone upon you, this day you have had food and raiment, and you have come up here in health and strength. Do you hate God because he loves you? Is that the reason? Consider how many mercies you have received at his hands all your life long! You are born with a body not deformed; you have had a tolerable share of health; you have been recovered many times from sickness; when lying at the gates of death, his arm has held back your soul from the last step to destruction. Do you hate God for all this? Do you hate him because he spared your life by his tender mercy? Behold his goodness that he hath spread before you! He might have sent you to hell; but you are here. Now, do you hate God for sparing you? Oh, wherefore art thou at enmity with him? My fellow creature, dost thou not know that God sent his Son from his bosom, hung him on the tree, and there suffered him to die for sinners, the just for the unjust? And dost thou hate God for that? Oh, sinner! is this the cause of thine enmity? Art thou so estranged that thou givest enmity for love? And when he surroundeth thee with favors, girdeth thee with mercies, encircleth thee with loving kindness, dost thou hate him for this? He might say, as Jesus did to the Jews, "For which of these works do ye stone me?" For which of these works do ye hate God? Did an earthly benefactor feed you, would you hate him? Did he clothe you, would you abuse him to his face? Did he give you talents, would you turn those powers against him? Oh, speak! Would you forge the iron and strike the dagger into the heart of your best friend? Do you hate your mother, who nursed you on her knee? Do you curse your father, who so wisely watched over you? Nay, ye say, we have some little gratitude towards earthly relatives. Where are your hearts, then? Where are your hearts, that ye can still despise God, and be at enmity with him? Oh! diabolical crime! Oh! satanic enormity! Oh! iniquity for which words fail in description! To hate the all-lovelyto despise the essentially goodto abhor the constantly mercifulto spurn the ever beneficentto scorn the kind, the gracious one; above all, to hate the God who sent his son to die for man! Ah! in that thought"The carnal mind is enmity with God;" there is something which may make us shake; for it is a terrible sin to be at enmity with God. I would I could speak more powerfully, but my Master alone can impress upon you the enormous evil of this horrid state of heart.
IV. But there are one or two doctrines which we will try to deduce from this. Is the carnal mind at enmity against God? Then salvation cannot be by merit; it must be by grace. If we are at enmity with God, what merit can we have? How can we deserve anything from the being we hate? Even if we were pure as Adam, we could not have any merit; for I do not think Adam had any desert before his Creator. When he had kept all his Master's law he was but an unprofitable servant; he had done no more than he ought to have done; he had no surplus, no balance. But since we have become enemies, how much less can we hope to be saved by works! Oh! no; but the whole Bible tells us, from beginning to end, that salvation is not by the works of the law, but by the deeds of grace. Martin Luther declared that he constantly preached justification by faith alone, "because," said he, "the people would forget it; so that I was obliged almost to knock my Bible against their heads, to send it into their hearts." So it is true; we constantly forget that salvation is by grace alone. We always want to be putting in some little scrap of our own virtue; we want to be doing something. I remember a saying of old Matthew Wilkes: "Saved by your works! you might as well try to go to America in a paper boat!" Saved by your works! It is impossible! Oh! no, the poor legalist is like a blind horse going round and round the mill, or like the prisoner going up the treadwheel, and finding himself no higher after all he has done; he has no solid confidence, no firm ground to rest upon. He has not done enough"never enough;" conscience always says, "this is not perfection; it ought to have been better," Salvation for enemies must be by an ambassador,by an atonement,yea, by Christ.
Another doctrine we gather from this is, the necessity of an entire change of our nature. It is true, that by birth we are at enmity with God. How necessary then it is that our nature should be changed! There are few people who sincerely believe this. They think that if they cry, "Lord, have mercy upon me," when they lay a-dying, they shall go to heaven directly. Let me suppose an impossible case for a moment. Let me imagine a man entering heaven without a change of heart. He comes within the gates. He hears a sonnet. He starts! It is to the praise of his enemy. He sees a throne, and on it sits one who is glorious; but it is his enemy. He walks streets of gold, but those streets belong to his enemy. He sees hosts of angels; but those hosts are the servants of his enemy. He is in an enemy's house; for he is at enmity with God. He could not join the song, for he would not know the tune. There he would stand, silent, motionless; till Christ would say, with a voice louder than ten thousand thunders, "What dost thou here? Enemies at a marriage banquet? Enemies in the children's house? Enemies in heaven? Get thee gone? 'Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire in hell!'" Oh! sirs, if the unregenerate man could enter heaven, I mention once more the oft-repeated saying of Whitefield, he would be so unhappy in heaven, that he would ask God to let him run down to hell for shelter. There must be a change, if ye consider the future state; for how can enemies to God ever sit down at the banquet of the Lamb?
And to conclude, let me remind youand it is in the text after allthat this change must be worked by a power beyond your own. An enemy may possibly make himself a friend; but enmity cannot. If it be but an adjunct of his nature to be an enemy, he may change himself into a friend; but if it is the very essence of his existence to be enmity, positive enmity, enmity cannot change itself. No, there must be something done more than we can accomplish. This is just what is forgotten in these days. We must have more preaching of the Holy Spirit, if we are to have more conversion work. I tell you, sirs, if you change yourselves, and make yourselves better, and better, and better, a thousand times, you will never be good enough for heaven, till God's Spirit has laid his hand upon you; till he has renewed the heart, till he has purified the soul, till he has changed the entire spirit and new-made the man, there can be no entering heaven. How seriously, then, should each stand and think. Here am I, a creature of a day, a mortal born to die, but yet an immortal! At present I am at enmity with God. What shall I do? Is it not my duty, as well as my happiness, to ask whether there be a way to be reconciled to God?
Oh! weary slaves of sin, are not your ways the paths of folly? Is it wisdom, O my fellow-creatures, is it wisdom to hate your Creator? Is it wisdom to stand in opposition against him? Is it prudent to despise the riches of his grace? If it be wisdom, it is hell's wisdom; if it be wisdom, it is a wisdom which is folly with God. Oh! may God grant that you may turn unto Jesus with full purpose of heart! He is the ambassador; he it is who can make peace through his blood; and though you came in here an enemy, it is possible you may go out through that door a friend yet, if you can but look to Jesus Christ, the brazen serpent which was lifted up.
And now, it may be, some of you are convinced of sin, by the Holy Spirit. I will now proclaim to you the way of salvation. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." Behold, O trembling penitent, the means of thy deliverance. Turn thy tearful eye to yonder Mount of Calvary! See the victim of justicethe sacrifice of atonement for your transgression. View the Saviour in his agonies, with streams of blood purchasing thy soul, and with intensest agonies enduring thy punishment. He died for thee, if now thou dost confess thy guilt. O come, thou condemned one, self-condemned, and turn thine eye this way, for one look will save. Sinner! thou art bitten. Look! It is naught but "Look!" It is simply "Look!" If thou canst but look to Jesus, thou art safe. Hear the voice of the Redeemer: "look unto me, and be ye saved." Look! Look! Look! O guilty souls.
Let no other trust intrude;
None but Jesus, kind and loving,
Can do helpless sinners good."
May my blessed Master help you to come to him, and draw you to his Son, for Jesu's sake. Amen and Amen.
Collection administered by Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hosted by (mt)DV. For help and support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org