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Verse 18

For I know that in me, etc. - I have learned by experience that in an unregenerate man there is no good. There is no principle by which the soul can be brought into the light; no principle by which it can be restored to purity: fleshly appetites alone prevail; and the brute runs away with the man.

For to will is present with me - Though the whole soul has suffered indescribably by the Fall, yet there are some faculties that appear to have suffered less than others; or rather have received larger measures of the supernatural light, because their concurrence with the Divine principle is so necessary to the salvation of the soul. Even the most unconcerned about spiritual things have understanding, judgment, reason, and will. And by means of these we have seen even scoffers at Divine revelation become very eminent in arts and sciences; some of our best metaphysicians, physicians, mathematicians, astronomers, chemists, etc., have been known - to their reproach be it spoken and published - to be without religion; nay, some of them have blasphemed it, by leaving God out of his own work, and ascribing to an idol of their own, whom they call nature, the operations of the wisdom, power, and goodness of the Most High. It is true that many of the most eminent in all the above branches of knowledge have been conscientious believers in Divine revelation; but the case of the others proves that, fallen as man is, he yet possesses extra-ordinary powers, which are capable of very high cultivation and improvement. In short, the soul seems capable of any thing but knowing, fearing, loving, and serving God. And it is not only incapable, of itself, for any truly religious acts; but what shows its fall in the most indisputable manner is its enmity to sacred things. Let an unregenerate man pretend what he pleases, his conscience knows that he hates religion; his soul revolts against it; his carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be. There is no reducing this fell principle to subjection; it is Sin, and sin is rebellion against God; therefore sin must be destroyed, not subjected; if subjected, it would cease to be sin, because sin is in opposition to God: hence the apostle says, most conclusively, it cannot be subjected, i.e. it must be destroyed, or it will destroy the soul for ever. When the apostle says, to will is present with me, he shows that the will is on the side of God and truth, so far that it consents to the propriety and necessity of obedience. There has been a strange clamor raised up against this faculty of the soul, as if the very essence of evil dwelt in it; whereas the apostle shows, throughout this chapter, that the will was regularly on God's side, while every other faculty appears to have been in hostility to him. The truth is, men have confounded the will with the passions, and laid to the charge of the former what properly belongs to the latter. The will is right, but the passions are wrong. It discerns and approves, but is without ability to perform: it has no power over sensual appetites; in these the principle of rebellion dwells: it nills evil, it wills good, but can only command through the power of Divine grace: but this the person in question, the unregenerate man, has not received.

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