ENMITY AGAINST GOD
March 24, 1784.
THE essence of our nature as corrupted, is “enmity against God.” This carnal mind is enmity against everything in God, and every manifestation which God hath made or ever will make of himself. We ought to love God, love everything in God; for every thing in him is infinitely lovely. We ought to love every thing he does or says; and our love toward him should bear some proportion to the glory, clearness, and brightness of the discovery which God, in any way or at any time, makes of himself. But the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, but act directly opposite to every thing which the law commands. And this enmity shews itself in proportion to the brightness of the manifestation which God makes of himself, the hatred of the light still increasing with its brightness. This explains those passages in Rom. vii. which speak of “sin being revived by the law,” “sin, taking occasion by the commandment, working in us all manner of concupiscence.” When the law is seen by the light of God’s Spirit in its spirituality, as holy, just and good, in its extent, as preaching to the whole man, to his thoughts, words, and actions, and as extending to every sin, and condemning sin universally, and also the person in whom in any degree it is found; this spiritual view, in proportion to its clearness and extent, will set the dormant enmity at work, and cause it to rage. Thus “working death by that which is good, sin by the commandment will become exceeding sinful.” This enmity hates every thing in the law of God:
God’s holiness in it, forbidding sin, justice in it, condemning every sin, and the person also in whom sin is found, goodness in it, giving happiness to his creatures in such a way of holiness. God’s authority in it, and his government over all his rational creatures, are also resisted and hated by this principle of sin. The law is holy, just, and good, and represents God to us as such, and in the name and with the authority of God it demands love and obedience from us to him, who is infinitely deserving of it, being in the highest degree, “holy, just and good.” It manifests God to us, and shews what is our consequent duty to him. God is unchangeably what the law represents him; the law, therefore, is unalterable, and our obligations to it are also eternally the same. As God himself, the original, cannot change, the law, the transcript or copy, cannot alter: and whilst God and the law remain the same, our necessary obligations to obedience must remain unalterable. When by the light of God’s Spirit we look into the glass of God’s law, we must see in it God’s holy nature and perfections, our necessary obligation to obedience, our sin, and our doom. It cannot but command that which is holy, just and good, and with equal authority condemn what is not holy, just, and good, in all rational creatures. But can corrupt nature which loves what the law condemns and hates what the law commands, bear the sight of these things unmoved, which are so contrary to it? No, sin revives, collects all its strength, works all manner of concupiscence, every lust is called forth to action, all the forces are collected to oppose the threatening enemy, which it so thoroughly hates. Enmity and self-preservation actuate this principle against that which is contrary to it, with such force and power, that this is called law also ” the law of sin in our members;” and with all the enmity, pride, and ungodliness of satan, it commands and threatens. This is that law which has entered the sinner’s heart, and has been written there ever since the moral law was obliterated by the fall. As a law it has universal sway and dominion in the sinner’s heart, in all its motions and workings. It is said to “reign unto death.” Rom. v. 21. It acts with authority, though not lawful, with power and delicacy. It hath, as a law, rewards and punishments. The pleasures of sin for a season are its rewards; and the deprivation of all sensual enjoyments with much inconveniency, are its punishments, threatened to all that disobey it.
But “till the commandment comes,” “we being without the law,” either in our minds or hearts, “sin is dead.” It dwells in the heart, but it is comparatively dead; it does not “work all manner of concupiscence,” it does not “war against the law of the mind,” because there is no law in the mind to war against; it doth not lust against the spirit, for there is no spirit to oppose it. But when the commandment comes in the demonstration of the Spirit and with power, sin revives; it puts forth enmity, and manifests lusts and concupiscence, before wholly unknown, aiming at the destruction of the law, and the giver of it, which is holy, just, and good; it commands with more authority, works with more energy, and its rewards and punishments are brought forth to view, the one in all its glory to allure, and the other in all its dreadful and black colours to terrify. Matt. iv. 8. The law itself which is holy, just and good, cannot be the cause of sin, but sin takes occasion by the law to work all manner of concupiscence. Thus the law revives sin, but slays the sinner; sin revives and he dies. The gospel on the contrary slays sin and revives the sinner; the sinner lives and sin dies. St. Paul says, “the commandment which was ordained unto life, I found to be unto death; “for by it sin is revived, and all his hopes of life by the commandment which was ordained unto life, died for ever. In this the sinfulness of sin evidently shews itself; when it works death by that which is good, it becomes exceeding sinful.” To live in sin whilst ignorant of that which is good, is not so exceedingly sinful: but when that which is good is made known and revealed, and sin still working death even by that which is good, by hating it with the most deadly and irreconcilable hatred, lusting against it, warring against it, and working all manner of concupiscence in opposition to it, in this case sin becomes exceedingly sinful.
We see from hence, also, wherein consists the great guilt of the sin of unbelief. The gospel contains the clearest, fullest, and most glorious manifestations God ever made of himself, and of all his adorable perfections. Unbelief comprehends in it a thorough hatred to God in the face of all this glorious light. It is the last and final opposition of the sinner’s heart to God, in the face of all the divine light which has shed from heaven by the works of creation and providence, by that law which is holy, just, and good, hut more especially by the glorious gospel of his Son. It is enmity in the fullest degree against God in all the glory of his awfully lovely perfections, and must bring down vengeance proportioned to the greatness of the guilt. This sin “works death,” not only by the law, but also by the gospel, which thus becomes the savour of death unto death.
This natural enmity in the heart does not shew itself much, but where there is some knowledge of divine things. We see in the whole conduct of mankind, their sensuality and worldly lusts, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, the one or the other, or all of them, appear in every thing they do. But this enmity shews itself where there is some light from the law or Gospel, or both, darting into the mind, and stirring up the whole serpent within. Those who have ever lived in darkness, cannot be said to hate the light, because they never saw it: but where the tight shines, and it serves only to make people shut their eyes against it, or flee from it, or act in direct opposition to it, then it may be said that they hate the light, and “love darkness rather than light.” And where this hatred and enmity increases with the degree of the glory that shines, it not only shews the desperate state of the person, but also, “the exceeding sinfulness of sin. The nature of sin is the same in all, but its workings may be more violent in some than in others, from stronger temptations, less preventing grace, or from more opposition to it by a fuller knowledge of those things which are contrary to it, and condemn it, and thereby revive its malignity.
This enmity to that which is good, is that evil in sin, which those who are truly enlightened take most notice of, and which shews them the true nature of sin, arid fills them with the greatest grief and sorrow on its account. This is that which St. Paul complains of in such expressive terms in Romans vii. It is the opposition which sin makes to the law, which is holy, just, and good, both as outwardly revealed, and inwardly written upon the heart, which is the same; and this it makes from its inconceivable enmity against God. It is this enmity to that which is good, which is the Christian’s continual plague. Every where and in every thing, it lusteth and warreth against all good. In prayer, hearing, reading, and meditating, this enmity is the grief of his heart. In believing, loving, hoping, and obeying, it sets itself, full of enmity, against that which is good, and the practice of it universally. This enmity is, as it were, the active principle in every sin, setting it to work with vigilance, activity, and perseverance. And this is it which the believer principally sets himself against; he hates this enmity, is deeply humbled, grieved, and distressed on its account; and he cannot but groan, being burdened, whilst he carries about him this body of death. When sin, being in any degree mortified by grace, has ceased to act in other ways, that is, in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, it will still be unceasing in its enmity and operations against all good, cooling or deadening the heart in God’s service, indisposing his people for spiritual duties, and intimate communion with him. Whilst it has a being in the soul, it will have this enmity in its lusting against the spirit,” and “warring against the law of the mind.” So that the most lively christian is in a continual danger of being entangled by it, and becoming dead and formal in religion. It acts universally in the soul in every faculty, and in opposition to every good act of that faculty. Though conquered ever so often, yet whilst it lives, it is restlessly “warring “with all its remaining power, be it ever so little, against the law of the mind. It is enmity also against every thing in God, every attribute and perfection, every promise and every command, law and gospel, mercy as well as justice; in short it is an universal opposition in man to every thing in God, which nothing but divine power can slay and abolish.
Hence we see the necessity of watching, of praying without ceasing, of looking up to God for wisdom and strength to resist, mortify, and crucify the flesh, principally in its enmity against God. From hence also we see the danger of having much and frequent communications with those who are outwardly civil and decent, or have only the form of godliness. However free they may be from gross sins and outrageous breach of God’s law, yet their whole heart is under the dominion of this enmity; and they think and act, even in their best actions, agreeably to it. Their company is as dangerous, if not much more so, to the life and power of godliness, as the company of those who are openly profane. We find, or may find ourselves in a short time, infected with the same cursed leaven, gradually losing our spiritual mindedness, and a worldly spirit taking possession of us. They think and, speak of every thing in a carnal worldly spirit; and by conversing much with them we shall soon lose our ground, learn of them, and join with them. Enmity in us savours enmity in them, is encouraged, fed, and strengthened by it. They are to each other, as iron sharpening iron. The old latent enmity in us begins to recover its edge and force; and the soul, as to its spirituality and heavenly-mindedness, will be infallibly sorely wounded and hurt by it. He that is not watchful against the remainder of this enmity, avoiding all occasions of strengthening it, knows not what watchfulness means, experimentally and spiritually; and he who is not deeply humbled under a sense of it, knows not what true repentance means. He who hath seen this enemy as he is, knows how desperate and how dangerous he is, spends much time in searching him out, that he may not be murdered in the dark, is well assured he cannot be too watchful against so watchful and active an enemy, that all means of strengthening cannot be too much avoided, and all means for mortifying him too diligently used. The sense of this enmity fills him with godly sorrow, and keeps him in the dust all his days. He cannot live at large, as many do, in boldness and security, well knowing what a deadly watchful enemy he always carries about him. He cannot indulge, as others do, in carnal joys and pleasures, and in what are called innocent amusements, nor pursue his earthly concerns with too much greediness, knowing that by all these things the old enmity will be fed and nourished, and will gain more strength to war against the soul. If our eyes are not steadily fixed upon this point, if we are not diligently searching into our own hearts to know the enmity and deceit of sin, in all its various ways of working and deceiving, we are in great danger of being found hypocrites in the end, however well pleased we may appear to be with the doctrines of grace. (Edward Morgan, “Thomas Charles’ Spiritual Counsels”, Essay 20)
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