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"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to de those things which are not convenient."

BEFORE proceeding to enforce the lesson in a state of progressive corruption. But that may be educed from this text, let us he rather sketches out to us in this chapter shortly remark, that the not liking to re- the progress of the world's degeneracy tain God in our knowledge, might have from one age to another; and we would been rendered by the not trying to do so, infer from his account that men, in the not exercising our minds on the proof and first instance, had a far more clear and information that were before them-so as convinced sense of God; but, not liking to fix the right belief about God, and to to retain it, committed the sin of a perperpetuate the right view and perception verse disposition against the light which of Him. At the same time it is very true they had, and in part extinguished itthat not to try the evidence, and not to that they of course left their own immeprosecute the guidance of the light which diate posterity, in a light more shaded and we have about any doctrine, argues either reduced than that which shone around the a dislike to that doctrine, or an indiffer-outset of their own progress through the ence about it-so that any slight amend-world-that these still disliked the rement which may be made of the English mainder of truth which they enjoyed; translation upon this score does not affect and, by their wilful resistance to its lesthe truth which it here sets before us, that sons inflicted upon it a further mutilation, God gives over to a reprobate mind, those and transmitted it to their descendants who do not like to retain Him in their with a still deeper hue of obscurity knowledge. thrown over it-that thus, by every sucBut the term 'reprobate' too, admits of cessive step from one generation to anosome little remark in the way of explana- |ther, the light of divine truth went down tion. In its prevailing acceptation, it sug-in this world's history more tarnished and gests to our minds a hopeless and aban-impaired than ever; but still with such doned wickedness of character; and so is glimpses as, however feeble and however expressive of a diseased state of the moral faded, were enough at least to try the principles. In its primary sense it was affection of man towards it, were enough equivalent to the term undiscerning, or to stir up a distinct resistance on the part undistinguishing; and so is expressive of of those who disliked it, were enough tc a darkened state of the understanding. keep up the responsibility of the world, In your larger Bibles, you will find a re- and to retain it in rightful dependence on probate mind rendered on the margin into the judgment of Him who made the world a mind void of judgment. But still it is-so as to make it clear on the day of judgment, not exercised on any secular or reckoning, that men, even in their state philosophical question, but the judgment of most sunken alienation from the true of what is moral and spiritual-that kind God, were never, like the beasts that of judgment where error leads necessarily perish, so helplessly blind, and so destiand immediately to practical unrighteous-tute of all capacity for discerning between ness; and where therefore the love of the the good and the evil, as to render them unrighteousness disposes us to prefer the the unfit subjects of a moral sentence and darkness rather than the light. It is thus that the understanding and the affections act and react upon each other; and that we read of men of corrupt minds having no judgment, or being reprobate concerning the faith; and of those who are abominable and disobedient, being also void of judgment about every good work, or unto every good work being reprobate.

In the sad narrative of the apostle in this chapter, he appears to refer not to the history of one individual mind, or of one individual conscience-the defilement of which two provinces in our moral and intellectual nature, goes on contemporaneously, with every human being who is

a moral examination. With every human creature who shall be pronounced worthy of death on that day, will it be seen that there was either a light which he actually had and liked not to retain, or a light which he might have had and liked not to recover. To whom much is given of him much shall be required; and there will be gradations of punishment in hell; and in that place where the retributions of vengeance are administered, will there be the infliction of many stripes upon some, and of few stripes upon others; and it will be more tolerable for those who lived in a darkness that was not wil. fully of their own bringing on, than for

those who stood on the ground of rebel- He shall let them alone since they will lion amid the full blaze and effulgency of | have it so. It is an extinction of the ligh light from Heaven. Yet still, there shall which they once had, but refused to be not be one unhappy outcast in that abode led by; and now perhaps that they have of eternal condemnation, who will not be it not, may they do many an evil thing to convicted of sin knowing it to be so; the evil of which they are profoundly who, whatever be the age or country of asleep, and against which their conscience, the world which he occupied, has not now lulled and stifled into spiritual death, been plied with admonitions which he lifts no voice of remonstrance whatever resisted, and urged by such an authorita- The guilt of sins committed in this state tive sense of duty as he trampled upon- of dormancy, which is of their own bringand that too, in the spirit of a daring and ing on, is no more done away by their presumptuous defiance. In short, be his insensibility to the foulness of them, than ignorance what it may, there was a wilful is the guilt of murder committed in the depravity which went beyond the limits fury of wilful intoxication. And ye deof his ignorance-Be that region of human praved and hackneyed old, at the doors affairs over which he roamed in utter of whose hearts we have so often knocked darkness as extended as it may, still there and knocked in vain, we bid you rememwas a region of light upon which he made ber a season of alarm and tenderness his intrusions with the intelligent purpose, which has now passed away-we ask of and in the determined spirit of a rebel- you to look back on the prayers and the Let the moral geography of the place he precautions of boyhood, when, the conoccupied be as remote as it may, still science awake and at her post, you at one there was a Law the voice of which at time trembled to think of that which you times did reach him, and the sanctions can now do without remorse and without of which must when time is no more at fearfulness. Ye men who have become length overtake him-Let the darkening stout-hearted sinners, and just because of his foolish heart be as due as it may to the moral light which shone upon you once the sin of his ancestors, they still left a has been extinguished by yourselves, and tribunal there from which went forth upon by yourselves your foolish hearts have him the whisper of many an intimation- been darkened-the scruples and the senIn the darkest period of this world's aban-sibilities of your earlier days may all donment, were there still the vestiges of truth before every eye, and a conscience awake in every bosom,-insomuch that not one trembling culprit will be seen before the judgment-seat, who will not stand self-convicted under the voice of a challenging and inspecting Deity-His own heart will bear witness to the sentence that he has gone forth against him; and the echoing voice of his own memory, wil be to him the knell of his righteous and everlasting condemnation.

have taken their departure, and such may be the lethargy of your souls that neither the thunders of the law nor the entreaties of the gospel can move them. You may now be able to stand your ground against all the spiritual artillery of the pulpitand, even though death has stalked at large over the entire field of your former companionship and left you a solitary and surviving memorial of friends and of families that have all been swept away, still may you persist in the spirit of an But we should like to bring the princi- unbroken worldliness, and act the secure ple of our text more distinctly and indi- and the stout-hearted sinner, who rivets vidually to bear upon you. That process all his desires and all his hopes on a slipin general history by which the decline pery foundation. It is true indeed, that, of this world's light respecting God, and with a conscience obliterated, and an the decline of its practical allegiance to inner man deaf to every awakening call, His authority, have kept pace, the one and a system of moral feelings like a with the other, is often realized in the piece of worn and rusty mechanism that personal history of a single individual. cannot be set agoing, and an overhanging There is a connection by the law of our torpor upon all the spiritual faculties, so nature, between his wilful disobedience that every denunciation of an angry God and his spiritual darkness. You have and a coming vengeance is only heard read perhaps in our old theologians, of like a sound that whistles by-it is indeed what they called a judicial blindness. It true that he whose soul is in a condition is a visitation consequent upon sin. It is such as this, sits in the region and in the a withdrawment of the Spirit of God, shadow of grossest darkness. But it is when grieved and discouraged and provo- not like the transmitted darkness of Paked by our resistance to His warnings.ganism, which he can offer to plead in It is that Spirit ceasing to strive with the mitigation-or which will make his last children of men; and coming to this as sentence more tolerable for him even as the final result of the contest he has so it shall be more tolerable for Sodom or long 1aintained with their obstinacy-Gomorrah. It is a darkness which he

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loved, and into which he voluntarily compass. Is there at the very outse entered. He made his escape to it from enough of likelihood that God might be the light which he hated; and by his the author of this book, as should resolve own act did he so outrun his pursuing us upon a serious examination--then if conscience, as now to be at a distance God actually be the author, we have not from her warnings. If the call of 'repent acquired the knowledge of Him we might or perish' do not bring him back-it is have done; and we shall be condemned because he is sealed unto the day of con- accordingly, if we withhold the examina. demnation; it is because God hath given tion which ought to have been given. Is him over to a reprobate mind; it is be- there enough of the character of the Dicause he is judicially in a state of blind- vinity stamped upon its pages, that, had ness; it is because his soul is compassed we only read with earnestness and ponwith a thick and heavy atmosphere of his dered with earnestness, we would have own gathering. The Heathen sinner will beheld the traces of Him distinctly there be tried by the light which he had. The and have been satisfied-then if, instead Christian sinner will be tried by the light of so reading, we have wantonly and which he fled from. This is his condem- ignorantly reviled it, God may righteousnation, that light has come into his partly step forth, and vindicate upon our perof the world-and he would not come to meet and be enlightened by it. He is on a footing altogether different from that of the idolater-though the darkness in which he is enveloped be irrecoverable. Enough that a light was offered which he refused -or enough that a light was once possessed, and he did not like to retain it.

sons, the truth of His insulted message and the honesty of His insulted messengers. If the suspicion has ever come into any of your hearts, that this ridicule of Scripture may after all be a ridicule of the Almighty; and you, instead of being arrested by the impulse of such a visitation, have, in the mad outcry of a great We have already remarked, that, in the and growing infatuation, made your gradual darkening and deterioration of strenuous effort to keep down this comour world from one age to another, each punctious feeling, and have prevailedage became successively more ignorant then have you committed yourselves, and of God than the preceeding; and yet with that wilfully, to the hazards of this altereach we believe, even in the veriest wilds native-that either the Scripture is a fable, of savage and unwrought humanity, is or you by the choice of your own hearts there enough of light and enough of con- and the deed of your own hands have science, and enough of God's law in dim come under all the curses that are written but remaining vestiges, to make every in it. Certain it is, that, to whatever term individual of our species a fit subject for of whatever alternative the world may moral examination, and for a righteous commit itself in reference to Christianity, sentence consequent upon a fair and im- Christianity commits itself to a very dispartial trial. Now we have not practically tinct alternative in reference to the world to do with the destinies of the unconvert--and if this religion indeed be true; and ed Heathen-nor shall we just now enter such be the actual influence of the human upon this region of speculation at all. will upon the human understanding, that But we have immediately to do with a he who is willing to do God's will shall question which respects the immortality know of the doctrine of Christ that it is of our own countrymen. What is their from God; and if faith in the gospel be light, and what is the degree of their con- at all times the fruit of moral honesty, demnation if they resist it? What is the duly exercised and sincerely in quest of precise addition which our possession of what is right; and if the spirit of directhe Bible has conferred upon our respon- tion be given to him who has an upright sibility? What is the knowledge of God feeling of desire to do as he ought, and to to which a conscientious and diligent pe- believe as he ought; and if every man rusal of this book might conduct us- who faithfully follows the light of his unless we like not to receive that know- conscience, is thereby conducted to a reledge which we might obtain? What is verence for his Bible and a reliance upon the knowledge of God which we throw his Bible; and if infidelity be at all times away from us by throwing this book away the issuing product of a heart careless from us-and that because we like not to about God, and utterly unconcerned either retain the knowledge which we might to retain such knowledge of Him as it has, possess? Only grant. that we are as mo- or to acquire such knowledge of Him as rally and as rightfully to blame for not it has not-then, it may not be in the acquiring the light which we might re- power of a fellow-man, under all those ceive if we had so willed it, as for not guises of candour and frankness and preserving the light which we might attain liberality which the unbeliever can put if we had so willed it; and the question on, so to feel his way through the intricabefore us is brought within a manageablecies of another's spirit, as to catch the

turking criminality and bring it out in | verty, were suddenly translated into ease satisfying exposure to the general eye. and affluence-and that through a min But let Christianity be true, and mark the istration of liberality left at your door by fearful alternative to him who spurns it the hand of some unknown benefactoraway. The unseen author of it ponders in reference to him, though utterly in the every heart; and, mysterious as its work- dark about his person, you may be guilty ings are to us, there is nothing in them of the crime of ingratitude. To make no all hat can baffle the scrutiny of Him inquiry about him were ungrateful. To who formed it; and if there be, as the riot in the enjoyment of the gift, without Bible says there is, an alliance between one thought of concern or curiosity about infidelity and moral evil, He can detect it, the giver, were both selfish and ungrateand bring it out on the day of reckoning ful. To be better pleased that you did not to open manifestation-He can unveil the know and have no repayment of gratitude whole process of this miserable delusion; to make, is the very essence of ingratiand at every step of it where pride or un- tude; and that too in reference to an ingodliness or selfishness or profligacy did dividual whose person perhaps you never operate its bias upon the understanding, saw, and whose name perhaps you never He can make it good, and that to the con- heard. To sit at greater ease without the viction of the unhappy man, that his burden of obligation upon you to any judgment was in error just because his known benefactor, than you would do if affections were in error-that there was he stood revealed to your apprehension, a want of belief in his mind, just because and claimed the due return of affection or there was a want of worth in his charac-of service-this is decisive of a heart ter-that he was not a Christian man, just tainted with the sin of ingratitude. It is because he was not an upright man-and sin which keeps you from enquiring; and that the light which was in him was turn-if carefully to enquire were certainly to ed into darkness, just because he did not care to retain it; and after it was lost he did not care and did not choose to recover it.

find, it is sin which keeps you from discovering. You want the light, and just because you hate it. You have not the knowledge of the heart that pitied and the band that aided you, because it is a knowledge you like not to acquire.

To satisfy you of a real connection between the state of man's moral principles on the one hand, and the state of his in- And thus it is, that many is the man tellectual principles on the other, let us who is ignorant of God-and yet lies unhave recourse to one simple illustration. der the full guilt and burden of ungodliFor it does require to be explained. There ness. Many is the man who with the is many an error in judgment which im- world as his satisfying portion, never lifts plies no worldliness of character what- one anxious inquiry after Him who made ever. A man may have a wrong opinion the world; and think you that his defecin matters of trade or philosophy or law; tive theology is as free of blame or conand this altogether unconnected with any demnation, as is the defective philosophy wrong habit of the life, or any wrong and of him who never attempted the toils of depraved habit of the affections. And scholarship? Tell, if here a want of unmight not he, in like manner, have a derstanding may not resolve itself into a wrong opinion on a question of theology, want of principle. He does not know God. and be so very far in the wrong as to But he does not seek to know him. His think Christianity a fable, and all this mistakes of conception regarding the Dewithout any moral perversity being the ity, or his total want of conception about cause of his error? Might it not be a Him, may be designed as mere errors of mere mistake of the understanding for judgment, or as a mere blindness of the which he lies under no responsibility at judgment. But it is the error and the all, at that bar where nothing is con-blindness of one who wishes not to see. demned that is not criminal? Where lies He grovels in ignorance; but it may be the greater fault of an error in a matter of speculation, and that because a man has a bad understanding, that of an error in a matter of sight, and that because a man has bad eyes? How is it that there is any connection between sentiment and And let our belief be as mistaken as it may explain to us how it comes to be an affair of moral turpitude, and with what justice or upon what principles it can have the retribution of any moral Vengeance awarded to it?

sin ?

If any of you, the victim of helpless po

just because he grovels in corruption. He is so engrossed with the creature, that he would like to be quit of a Creator. There may be an utter absence of light, and yet may he realize all the guilt of impiety. He may stand on the verge of atheism, or even be darkling within its limits-and yet his worthlessness, have the very same element with the worthlessness of him, before the eye of whose conviction God stands fully manifested, and who places himself in known defiance to his under. stood and authoritative voice.

And so may it be of Christianity. Gl may have sent a written communication to the world. And to every careful, and desirous reader, the evidence of His hand may be legibly inscribed upon it; and he who is willing to do His will, may recognise in the doctrine of Christ the traces of the divinity which inspired it; and the man on whose heart a weight of conscientiousness lies, may by the dint of patience and of prayer come to a full and rational assurance of its truth; and just because reading and enquiring and attending the ordinances, and all under the im

But let us recur again to our illustra- | of this proceeding-that the sin of his tion. The unknown friend may wish to judgment is the sin of his heart-and that reveal himself to the man he has befriend- unbelief which many would screen from ed. He may send a messenger with a let-condemnation, is in his instance unbelief ter to his door. He may inscribe such fostered by his own wilful depravity, and evidences of his authenticity there, as an unbelief for which he deserves to be would force conviction if the letter was execrated? but read. He may specify the amount, and he may specify the particulars of the ministration which had been rendered; and that in such a way as to prove that he was the author of it. The bearer of the communication may have all the marks of honesty about him-yet this be not enough He may tell a consistent story-yet this be not enough. There may be companions along with him of complexion as fair and creditable as his own to vouch for the accuracy of his statement-yet this be not enough. The last and most conclusive evidence may still be in reserve-It may lie in the sub-pulse of a sense of duty, may he become stance of the written communication-and not till he to whom it is addressed has opened it and read it, may he come fully to recognise and verify his benefactor. And yet to a soul of selfishness and ingratitude, this might be an unwelcome intrusion. He may have no desire to know his benefactor; and have a dread or a dis-er, there might beam a celestial effulgency like towards the revelation of his will; and he may spurn the messenger from his door; and he may refuse to open or to read the letter that has been offered to him; and the best evidence that there was upon the question may never have been before his eyes-not because it did not exist, but because he refused to look at it-Nay he might have read, but read in such a careless and hasty style of perusal, that he did not attain to conviction, and just because he took no pains to be convinced. And who does not see that his want of right understanding resolves into a want of right principle-that there is a taint of moral perversity in the whole

a steadfast believer. But if careless about God, he will be equally careless about any revelation that professes to have come from Him. The Bible may often solicit his eye, but still remain unopened and unused by him. That book from whose pages, if explored with honesty and pray

upon his understanding, may be held in neglect or treated with insult and derision. For aught he knows, it may be the record of the will of Him who ushered him into life, and ministers to him all its enjoyments. And if ever the thought of this possibility visited his heart, and he in the face of it joined in the infidel cry of those who deride and who disown it-then on another day may the remembrance of this visitation rise in judgment against him; and it be made clear to his own conscience, that, in spurning the Bible from his door he braved the hazards of a contest with Omnipotence.


ROMANS ii, 1-12.

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. But we are sure that the judgment of God is ac cording to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this. O man, that judgest them which lo such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering: not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but, after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath: tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good; to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law."

BEFORE proceeding to the exposition | concluding verse in the last chapter, that, of this chapter, it may be remarked of the with all the blindness which the apostl

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