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8If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

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8. For he that soweth to his flesh. Having stated the general sentiment, he now divides it into parts. To sow to the flesh, is to look forward to the wants of the present life, without any regard to a future life. They who do this will gather fruit corresponding to the seed which they have sown, — will heap up that which shall miserably perish. To sow in the flesh, (seminare in carne,) is supposed by some to mean indulgence in the lusts of the flesh, and corruption to mean destruction; but the former exposition agrees better with the context. In departing from the old translation and from Erasmus, I have not acted rashly. The Greek words, ὁ σπείρων εἰς τὴν σάρκα ἑαυτοῦ, literally signify, he that soweth into his flesh. And what else does this mean, but to be so entirely devoted to the flesh, as to direct all our thoughts to its interests or convenience?

But he that soweth to the spirit. By the spirit I understand the spiritual life, to which they are said to sow whose views are directed more to heaven than to earth, and whose life is regulated by the desire of reaching the kingdom of God. From their spiritual employments they will reap in heaven incorruptible fruit. Those employments are denominated spiritual on account of their end, though in some respects they are external and relate to the body, as in the very case now under consideration of supporting pastors. If the Papists shall endeavor, in their usual manner, to build upon these words the righteousness of works, we have already shewn how easily their absurdities may be exposed. Though eternal life is a reward, it does not follow either that we are justified by works, or that works are meritorious of salvation. The undeserved kindness of God appears in the very act of honoring the works which his grace has enabled us to perform, by promising to them a reward to which they are not entitled.

Is a more complete solution of the question demanded?

1. We have no good works which God rewards but those which we derive from his grace.

2. The good works which we perform by the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, are the fruits of that adoption which is an act of free grace.

3. They are not only unworthy of the smallest and most inconsiderable reward, but deserve to be wholly condemned, because they are always stained by many blemishes; and what have pollutions to do with the presence of God?

4. Though a reward had been a thousand times promised to works, yet it is not due but by fulfilling the condition of obeying the law perfectly; and how widely distant are we all from that perfection!

Let Papists now go and attempt to force their way into heaven by the merit of works. We cheerfully concur with Paul and with the whole Bible in acknowledging, that we are unable to do anything but by the free grace of God, and yet that the benefits resulting from our works receive the name of a reward.




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