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Sect. CXII. — “MY Spirit shall not always judge in man; for he is flesh.” These are, verbatim, the words of Moses: and if we would away with our own dreams, the words as they there stand, are, I think, sufficiently plain and clear. And that they are the words of an angry God, is fully manifest, both from what precedes, and from what follows, together with the effect — the flood! The cause of their being spoken, was, the sons of men taking unto them wives from the mere lust of the flesh, and then, so filling the earth with violence, as to cause God to hasten the flood, and scarcely to delay that for “an hundred and twenty years,” (Gen. vi. 1-3,) which, but for them, He would never have brought upon the earth at all. Read and study Moses, and you will plainly see that this is his meaning.

But it is no wonder that the Scriptures should be obscure, or that you should be enabled to establish from them, not only a free, but a divine will, where you are allowed so to trifle with them, as to seek to make out of them a Virgilian patch-work. And this is what you call, clearing up difficulties, and putting an end to all dispute by means of an interpretation! But it is with these trifling vanities that Jerome and Origen have filled the world: and have been the original cause of that pestilent practice — the not attending to the simplicity of the Scriptures.

It is enough for me to prove, that in this passage, the divine authority calls men “flesh;” and flesh, in that sense, that the Spirit of God could not continue among them, but was, at a decreed time, to be taken from them. And what God meant when He declared that His Spirit should not “always judge among men,” is explained immediately afterwards, where He determines “an hundred and twenty years” as the time that He would still continue to judge.

Here He contrasts “spirit” with “flesh:” shewing that men being flesh, receive not the Spirit: and He, as being a Spirit, cannot approve of flesh: ‘wherefore it is, that the Spirit, after “an hundred and twenty years,” is to be withdrawn. Hence you may understand the passage of Moses thus — My Spirit, which is in Noah and in the other holy men, rebukes those impious ones, by the word of their preaching, and by their holy lives, (for to “judge among men,” is to act among them in the office of the word; to reprove, to rebuke, to beseech them, opportunely and importunely,) but in vain: for they, being blinded and hardened by the flesh, only become the worse the more they are judged. — And so it ever is, that wherever the Word of God comes forth in the world, these men become the worse, the more they hear of it. And this is the reason why wrath is hastened, even as the flood was hastened at that time: because, they now, not only sin, but even despise grace: as Christ saith, “Light is come into the world, and men hate the light.” (John iii. 19.)

Since, therefore, men, according to the testimony of God Himself, are “flesh,” they can savour of nothing but flesh; so far is it from possibility that “Free-will” should do any thing but sin. And if, even while the Spirit of God is among them calling and teaching, they only become worse, what will they do when left to themselves without the Spirit of God!

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