Part 2 Chapter 5

Section 6—Romans 8:7, 8.

Because the carnal mind is enmity 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.

The carnal mind,or to< fro>nhma th~v,which may be rendered the wisdom of the flesh,signifies the wisest and best part of man, the soul, with all its powers and faculties; and this being carnal is a strong proof of the wretched corruption of human nature. Besides, this carnal mind is not only an enemy to, but enmity itself against that God who made it, upholds it in life, and loads it with benefits; and therefore is not subject to the law of God,which is holy, just, and good; nor indeed can it be, considering its state and circumstances, without the powerful and efficacious grace of God; wherefore the apostle's conclusion is exceeding just, so lien they that are in the flesh,that is, in an unregenerate state, and are wholly carnal and corrupt, cannot please God; that is, do those things which are pleasing to him. To which is objected,

1. That "this text[1] with the preceding one, were abused by the ancient heretics,to prove that the flesh, or body of tomb is, by nature, evil; and they that are in the body of flesh, cannot be subject to the law, or please God." But what is this to us, who by the flesh in both places, understand not the body, to which wisdom does not belong, and in which men may please God, and be subject to his law, but the corrupt nature of man, or men, in an unregenerate estate; who, whilst such, are enemies to God, unsubjected to his law, and cannot please him?

2. It is owned,[2] that "the apostle doth indeed say, that they who thus mind carnal things, while they continue so to do, cannot please God, or live in subjection to his laws; but does not say, that they cannot be made good; for by his frequent exhortations to these carnal men, to crucify and mortify the flesh,to put off the old man with his deeds,joined with threats and promises, plainly shows, that men may cease to live according to the flesh, and may obtain that assistance of the Spirit by which they shall mortify the deeds of the flesh, and live after the Spirit." Upon which I observe, that all that are after: the flesh, or in an unrenewed state, mind carnal things; and since it is allowed, that while they continue so to do, as they will, so long as they remain unconverted, they cannot please God; the words prove what we produce them for, namely, the corruption of man's nature, and his disability to do that which is spiritually good. But it is observed, that the apostle does not say such cannot be made good: nor do we say so, but we affirm, that they cannot make themselves good, and that they cannot be made good but by the grace of God; and that until they are made so, they cannot do that which is spiritually good, no more than an evil tree can bring forth good fruit. And as for the exhortations to crucify and mortify the flesh,and to put off the old man,the passages in Romans 8:13. Galatians 5:24, referred to, are not properly exhortations; and neither they, nor the other, belong to carnal men, but to believers in Christ, who were Christ's and had the spirit of Christ already; and were debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh,but to the Spirit, to live after the Spirit; and therefore fall short of proving that carnal men may make themselves good, or of themselves cease to live after the flesh.


[1] Whitby, p. 282, 333; ed. 2.324.

[2] Ibid. p. 333, 334; ed. 2.275, 325.

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