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very provoking to Almighty God, namely, that they held the truth in unrighteousness; that is, their natural convictions were kept down under the dominion and power of their corruptions. Lust in their wills and affections was too hard for the light in their understandings: they entertained the light of truth in their minds, but did not suffer it to have its proper effect and influence upon their hearts and lives; thus making that a prisoner which would have made them free. Learn, 1. That it is a very great aggravation of sin for men to offend against the convictions of their own consciences. 2. That the wrath of God is dreadfully incensed against all those that live in any course of sin, rebelling against the dictates and convictions of their own enlightened consciences. Dread it then as thou dreadest hell itself; to sin against knowledge, to rebel against the light of thy own mind, to slight the whispers, to stifle the voice of thy own conscience; but reverence and obey its dictates as the commands of God.

19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

That is, much of the nature and properties of God may be known by the light of nature; his infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, are manifest in the minds and consciences of all men; For God hath shewed it unto them, partly by imprinting these notions of himself upon the hearts of all men, and partly by the book of the creatures, in which his glorious attributes are written in large and legible characters. Learn hence, That all men have a natural knowledge of God, and those great duties which result from the knowledge of him. 2. That the natural knowledge which men have of God, if they live contrary to it, it is a sufficient evidence of their holding the truth of God in unrighteousness, and is a God-provoking and wrath-procuring sin.

20 For the invisible things of

him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead: so that they are without excuse

The apostle here proceeds in acquainting us with that knowledge of God which the heathens had by the light of nature, which was in their hearts, and augmented and increased by what of God they saw in the book of the creatures, namely, in the works of creation and providence: The invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, &c. The sense I conceive is this: the wise and wonderful frame of the world, which cannot reasonably be ascribed to any other cause but God, is a sensible demonstration to all mankind of an eternal and powerful being, that was the author and contriver of it. The strokes of the Creator's hand are engraven in all parts of the universe; the heavens, the earth, and the capacious sea, with all things contained in them, are evident testimonies of the excellency of their original cause: and therefore such of the heathens of old as shut their eyes, and such of the Atheists at this day as wink hard, and will not see the footsteps of a Deity in the works of creation and providence, are, and will be, everlastingly left without excuse. Learn hence, 1. That much of the being and essential perfections of God may be known by the light of nature, if attended to; and much more may be understood by the book of the creatures, if attentively looked into. The invisible things of God are clearly seen from the creation; that is, the creation of the world is a plain demonstration to men of the being and power of God. Learn, 2. That all such persons will be left for ever without excuse before God, who either extinguish the light of nature, and smother the natural notices which they have of God, or do not improve them by a due consideration of the works of God. Without opening the eye of reason, the book of the creation is of no more use to us than to the brute beasts. They see the creatures as well as we; but many of us consider the creatures, and see God in the creation, no more than they; and this will leave us without cxcuse. Learn, 3. How endearing are our obligations to Almighty God, for the favour and benefit of divine revelation, that together with the light of nature, we have the su

peradded light of scripture; the law to convince us of our sin, the gospel to discover a Saviour. The heathen had only those natural apostles of sun, moon, and stars, to guide them to God, and instruct them in their duty to him; but we have the wisdom of the Father, the incarnate Son of God, and his inspired apostles and ministers, to lead us into all truth, and his Holy Spirit to excite and quicken us in our obedience to him. Therefore eternally magni. fied be omnipotent love, for the light of scripture, for the benefit of divine revelation. For though there be a natural theology, there is not a natural christology; there is a natural divinity, but not a natural gospel; a knowledge of God by the light of nature, but no knowledge of Jesus the Mediator, without the light of scripture. All thanks, eternal thanks, be to God for his unspeakable gift! Lord, how will all such as contemn it be left without excuse!

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened :

pay that homage and honour to the Deity which they should. Learn thence, That the knowledge which we have of God and his attributes, if it do not engage us to honour, glorify, and worship him, suitably to his adorable perfections, it is vain and useless in God's account, and will but expose us to a more dreadful condemnation Another sin mentioned in this verse, which the Heathens were guilty of, was the sin of unthankfulness. They glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful. That is, they had not a due sense of the favours and benefits of God conferred upon them; but ascribing the blessings of heaven to chance and fortune, to fate and destiny, to the influence of the stars and planets, to their own prudence and providence, they paid their thanks to blind fortune for a favour which the eye of Providence had bestowed upon them. It is impossible that God should receive the tribute of thankfulness, if we do not see all our mercies flowing from him. Observe farther, The sad effect, fruit, and consequence, of the forementioned sins. The heathens which committed them, it is said, 1. That they became vain in their imaginations; that is, they had various opinions and vain conceptions of the Godhead. Some of them denied that there was a God, others doubted whether there was a God or no; some affirmed there was but one God, others owned a plurality, yea, a multiplicity of gods. Some acknowledged God's being, but denied his providence: others owned his providence, but confined it in its exercises to secondary causes. Thus vain in their imaginations, thus absurd in their notions, and thus sottish in their reasonings, were the heathens concerning God, his nature, and worship. Well might our apostle say, They became vain in their imagi nations. And, 2. That their foolish hearts were darkened; that is, for rebelling against the light received, their minds and understandings were more and more darkened; their natural reason obscured, because not improved. Lord, how dangerous is it not to improve our knowledge: how fatal to rebel against the light and convictions of our own minds! it provokes thee to deliver us up to the power of spiritual darkness on earth, and consign us over to an eternal darkness in hell, where is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever, as the punishment and portion of those that rebel against the light, and sin against knowledge.

From this verse to the end of the chapter we have a large and black catalogue of the sins which the old heathens or Gentiles were guilty of; some of which they voluntarily committed, and others they were judicially delivered up unto (for God without any impeachment of his holiness often punishes sin with sin.) Their sins voluntarily committed are here recited, and the first of them is their sinning against light and knowledge. They had some natural notices of God implanted and imprinted in their minds, and such an additional knowledge of his being and attributes, as might be gained by an attentive study in the book of the creatures; but they rebelled against this light, and thereby contracted an aggravated guilt. Learn thence, That to sin against light and knowledge, cither in the omission of duty, or commission of sin, is the highest aggravation of sinfulness; as ignorance lesseneth, so knowledge aggravateth the malignity of sin. The next sin charged upon them was, they did not glorify that God whom they had the knowledge of: that is, they did not conceive of him and worship him as became his divine perfections and excellences; they did not esteem so highly of him as they ought, and

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22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

The next sin which the apostle charges upon the Gentiles, is the sin of idolatry. Such as professed themselves to be the most wise and knowing men among them, as their celebrated philosophers, poets, and orators, they debased and dishonoured the all-glorious God, by framing vile images of men and beasts, of birds and creeping things, to represent him by. These idolaters changed the glory of the living, everliving God, into the likeness of lifeless things; whereas the Lord is so infinitely glorious, that nothing can set forth his glory sufficiently; the most excellent creature cannot represent his super-excellent perfections, and accordingly it is as real a debasing of the divine Majesty to represent him by an angel, as by a worm or a fly. All at tempted representations of God by any creature whatsoever, are idolatrous provocations. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves :

Observe here, 1. Another infamous sin charged upon the heathens; namely, the sin of uncleanness, yea, base, unnatural uncleanness, and pollutions of the most odious kinds. Learn thence, That idolatry and uncleanness often go together. Solomon's uncleanness led him to idolatry, and his idolatry increased his uncleanness. The city of Rome at this day, which is a grove of idols, the chief seat of idolatry, is next to a Sodom for uncleanness; witness their allowing of stews by public authority. Learn, 2. That all kinds and degrees of pollutions, both natural and unnatural, are to be detested, and abhorred, as dishonouring the body. Our bodies are Christ's members, the Holy Ghost's temples; let us therefore glorify God with our bodies on earth, which shall be subjects capable of glory with himself in heaven. Observe, 2. God's judiciary tradition of these idolatrous heathens to the sin of uncleanness: Wherefore God gave them up to uncleanness. Almighty God often doth, and always righteously may, punish sin with sin.

God punished the idolatry of the heathens here, by delivering them up to vile affections, to uncleanness and unnatural lusts. But how is this consistent with God's holither infuses sin into their hearts, nor excites to sin in their lives, but leaves sinners to themselves, to act without restraint according to the inclination of their own lusts and corruptions: and also gives them up to Satan, that unclean Spirit, who will not fail to provoke them to such uncleanness as he knows their inclinations stand ready to comply with. Lord! keep back thy servants from sinning against the light of nature, against the light of scripture, lest we be judicially darkened, and given up to a sottish and injudicious mind, to hardness of heart, and the vilest affections.

ness and hatred of sin? Thus: God nei

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Here our apostle proceeds to give a particular and distinct account of the abominable idolatry and unnatural filthiness, which he had charged the heathens with in the foregoing verses. As to their idolatry, he had told us at the 23d verse, that they had made false and unworthy representations of the ever-blessed God; worshipping God in and by the creatures. In this 25th verse, they are charged with a false object of their worship, giving divine honour to a creature: They changed the truth of God into a lie; that is, the true God into an idol: called a lie, because it deceives men as a lie doth, by seeming to be that which indeed it is not: it seems,

in the idolater's fancy, to have something of divinity in it; when in reality it is but wood or stone. Every image of God is a false and lying representation of God. Secondly, As to their uncleanness, he shows that they were so given up to the ravings of lusts, for sinning against the light of nature, that they forsook the order of nature, and were more brutish than the very brutes. Learn hence, That when men provoke God finally to forsake them, and judicially to give them up to their own hearts' lusts, they will not stick to commit such monstrous and unnatural uncleanness as the very brute beasts abhor. Here men and women burnt in worse than beastly lusts towards those of their own sex. Lord! if we are not more vile than the vilest of thy creatures, we owe it all to thy sanctifying, or at least to thy restraining grace. As by the grace of God we are what we are; so by his grace it is that we are not what we are not.

29 Being filled with all unrightcousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful :

Here the apostle sums up the sins which the heathens committed against the second table, or against their neighbour; not that every particular person was guilty of all these black crimes, but all were guilty of some, and some perhaps were guilty of all or most of them. Learn hence, That the heart of man doth naturally swarm and abound with strange and monstrous lusts and abominations.-Lord! what a swarm is here! and yet there are multitudes more in the depths of the heart. Whatever abominations were found in the hearts and lives of heathens and Sodomites, and the most profligate wretches under heaven, are radically and seminally in our corrupt and degenerate natures, Matt. xv. 19. Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, &c. What are lusts, but so many toads spitting of venom and spawning of poison? O deplorable degradation! Learn, 2. How much sadder is the condition which unregenerate souls abide in, who

remain in and under the power and dominion, the vassalage and slavery, of these imperious lusts, which perpetually rage within them, and incessantly contest and scuffle for the throne. Learn, 3. To stand astonished at the heart-changing grace of God, which has delivered thce from so dismal a condition. O! fall down and kiss the feet of mercy; adore the sovereignty and freeness of divine grace, which stept in so seasonably to thy rescue. Lord! what black imaginations, what vile affections, what hellish desires, what monstrous abominations, were lodged in my heart and nature, before regenerations wrought a change! O that ever the Holy Ghost should set his eyes upon any of the sinful offspring of apostate Adam; in whom were legions of unclean lusts, and whose nature was become the sink and seed-plot of all sin! Observe lastly, Two particular sins, which of all others seem most monstrous in these heathens. 1. They were haters of God, not of his essence, being, and goodness, but haters of his holiness, justice, and providence. 2. They were without natural affection. This appeared by sacrificing their children to their idols; and exposing themselves and their dearest relations to ruin. No sooner did we fall out with God, but we fell out with ourselves and one another.

32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

The apostle here closes the chapter with the blackest character that could be given of the Gentiles' sin, namely, that although by the light of nature, and the dictates of natural conscience, they knew that their adulteries and unnatural lusts did deserve death, and expose them to the wrath of God, yet they not only committed those sins themselves, but took a real pleasure and delight in those that committed them. Now this was the top and height of their wickedness. It is a greater wickedness to approve and applaud sin, than it is to act and commit sin; to delight in sin, is worse than to do sin. A man may fall into sin by the policy of the tempter, and the prevalency of temptation, but by consideration may be brought to a sense of his folly, and repent of it; but when he is arrived to such a pitch of wickedness, that he not only ap

proves and applauds, but takes pleasure and delight in the wickedness of others, this demonstrates such a strong affection to sin, as brings a man nearest to the devil in sinning. Learn hence, 1. That there is in God an avenging justice, engaging him to punish sin with the eternal death of the sinner. 2. That there is that evil malignity in sin, which deserves the judgment and sentence of eternal death. 3. That this desert of sin, as also the vengeance of God upon the sinner, is sufficiently made known to all men ; to some by the light of nature, to others by the superadded light of scripture. That notwithstanding this discovery of sin's desert of divine wrath, yet multitudes of sinners every where do not only commit wickedness themselves, but delight in it, and in them that do it, which lays them under an aggravated guilt, and will both heighten and hasten their condemnation : Who knowing the judgment of God, that they who do such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but take pleasure in them that do them.

CHAP. II.

4.

The apostle having it the first chapter discovered at large the rueful state of the Gentiles by nature, and their worse condition by reason of sin, in rebelling against the light and law of nature: in this second chapter he comes to speak of the Jews, and lays them as low as he did the Gentiles, upon design to convince both of their utter imposibility of being justified before God by any righteousness of their own, but only by faith in Jesus Christ.

THEREFORE thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest, doest the same things.

13

that judgest another, and by doing the
hence, 1. That it is too usual and common
same things condemnest thyself. Learn
a practice to condemn that sin in another
which men practise themselves.
when persous commit themselves the sins
2. That
which they censure and condemn in others,
they are totally inexcusable, and pronounce
sentence against themselves.

2 But we are sure that the judg against them which commit such ment of God is according to truth, things. 3 And thinkest thou this, Oman, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

As if the apostle had said, We that are Jews know, by the light of the scripture, what the Gentiles knew imperfectly by the light of nature, that the just God judges uprightly, according to truth, and not according to appearance. It is equitable that he should, and certain that he will, deal with men according to his word, and reward every man according to his work. Think not then, O Jew! who judgeth the Gentiles for doing such things against the law of Moses, that thou shalt escape the severely felt. judgment of God, which they have so Learn hence, That such is God's hatred against sin, and such is the impartiality of his justice towards sinners, that no offenders can expect escaping the judgment of God for presumptuous sinning, Thinkest thou, O man, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? No affection, or nearness of relation, can blind

God, or put out the eye of his justice. If Gentile or Jew sin together, they shall suffer together; for there is no respect of persons with God: God will judge men in truth and righteousness, and condemn every sinner, whatever his knowledge or profession be. Learn, 2. That no man's zeal in condemning sin in others will justify or save him, if he lives in sin himself: Think not, O man, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God.

Lest the Jews should swell and be pufft up with pride, by hearing what the apostle said in the former chapter, of the detestable wickedness of the Gentiles, and the heavy displeasure of God against them for the same, St. Paul in this chapter pronounces the Jews to be guilty of the same sins, of which he had accused the Gentiles, affirming that the Jews had offended as inuch against the law of Moses, as the Gentiles had offended against the law of nature; and consequently their censuring and judging others, when they did the long-suffering; not knowing that same thing themselves, would render them the goodness of God leadeth thee totally inexcusable at God's tribunal: to repentance? 5 But, after thy Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, hardness and impenitent heart,

his goodness, and forbearance, and 4 Or despisest thou the riches of

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