« Prev Section CXX. Next »

Sect. CXX. — AND as to your saying — “Yet every affection of man is not flesh. There is an affection called, soul: there is an affection called, spirit: by which, we aspire to what is meritoriously good, as the philosophers aspired: who taught, that we should rather die a thousand deaths than commit one base action, even though we were assured that men would never know it, and that God would pardon it.” —

I answer: He who believes nothing certainly, may easily believe and say any thing. I will not ask you, but let your friend Lucian ask you, whether you can bring forward any one out of the whole human race, let him be two-fold or seven-fold greater than Socrates himself, who ever performed this of which you speak, and which you say they taught. Why then do you thus babble in vanities of words? Could they ever aspire to that which is meritoriously good, who did not even know what good is?

If I should ask you for some of the brightest examples of your meritorious good, you would say, perhaps, that it was meritoriously good when men died for their country, for their wives and children, and for their parents; or when they refrained from lying, or from treachery; or when they endured exquisite torments, as did Q. Scevola, M. Regulus, and others. But what can you point out in all those men, but an external shew of works. For did you ever see their hearts? Nay, it was manifest from the very appearance of their works, that they did all these things for their own glory; so much so, that they were not even ashamed to confess, and to boast, that they sought their own glory. For the Romans, according to their own testimonies, did whatever they did of virtue or valour, from a thirst after glory. The same did the Greeks, the same did the Jews, the same do all the race of men.

But though this be meritoriously good before men, yet, before God, nothing is less meritoriously good than all this; nay, it is most impious, and the greatest of sacrilege; because, they did it not for the glory of God, nor that they might glorify God, but with the most impious of all robbery. For as they were robbing God of His glory and taking it to themselves, they never were farther from meritorious good, never more base, than when they were shining in their most exalted virtues. How could they do what they did for the glory of God, when they neither knew God nor His glory? Not, however, because it did not appear, but because the “flesh” did not permit them to see the glory of God, from their fury and madness after their own glory. This, therefore, is that right-ruling ‘spirit,’ that ‘principal part of man, which aspires to what is meritoriously good’ — it is a plunderer of the divine glory, and an usurper of the divine Majesty! and then the most so, when men are at the highest of their meritorious good, and the most glittering in their brightest virtues! Deny, therefore, if you can, that these are “flesh” and carried away by an impious affection.

But I do not believe, that the Diatribe can be so much offended at the expression, where man is said to be, either “flesh” or “spirit;” because a Latin would here say, Man is either carnal or spiritual. For this particularity, as well as many others, must be granted to the Hebrew tongue, that when it says, Man is “flesh” or “spirit,” its signification is the same as ours is, when we say, Man is carnal or spiritual. The same signification which the Latins also convey, when they say, ‘The wolf is destructive to the folds,’ ‘Moisture is favourable to the young corn:’ or when they say, ‘This fellow is iniquity and evil itself.’ So also the Holy Scripture, by a force of expression, calls man “flesh;” that is, carnality itself; because it savours too much of, nay, of nothing but, those things which are of the flesh: and “spirit,” because he savours of, seeks, does, and can endure, nothing but those things which are of the spirit.

Unless, perhaps, the Diatribe should still make this remaining query — Supposing the whole of man to be “flesh,” and that which is most excellent in man to be called “flesh,” must therefore that which is called “flesh” be at once called ungodly? — I call him ungodly who is without the Spirit of God. For the Scripture saith, that the Spirit was therefore given, that He might justify the ungodly. And as Christ makes a distinction between the spirit and the flesh, saying, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and adds, that that which is born of the flesh “cannot see the kingdom of God” (John iii. 3-6), it evidently follows, that whatsoever is flesh is ungodly, under the wrath of God, and a stranger to the kingdom of God. And if it be a stranger to the kingdom of God, it necessarily follows, that it is under the kingdom and spirit of Satan. For there is no medium between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan; they are mutually and eternally opposed to each other.

These are the arguments that prove, that the most exalted virtues among the nations, the highest perfections of the philosophers, and the greatest excellencies among men, appear indeed, in the sight of men, to be meritoriously virtuous and good, and are so called; but that, in the sight of God, they are in truth “flesh,” and subservient to the kingdom of Satan: that is, ungodly, sacrilegious, and, in every respect, evil!

« Prev Section CXX. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |