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restrain the exercise of them. The first ages of the world, as is evident from the history of Babel, were ages of ambitious speculation; and man, with his love strongly devoted to the things of sense, still dreamed and imagined and theorized about hidden principles; and, with his sense of the one presiding Divinity nearly as good as obliterated, he began to fancy a distinct agency in each distinct element and department of nature; and, to make use of the strong phrases of God giving them up and giving them over, we may infer a law of connection between a distempered state of the heart, and a distempered state of the understanding; and thus their very wisdom was turned into folly; and to their perverted eye, the world was turned into one vast theatre of idolatry; and they personified all that they loved and all that they feared-till by the affections and the judgment acting and reacting, the one upon the other, they sank down into the degrading fooleries of Paganism.



ROMANS i, 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."

BEFORE proceeding to enforce the lesson that may be educed from this text, let us shortly remark, that the not liking to retain God in our knowledge, might have been rendered by the not trying to do so, not exercising our minds on the proof and information that were before them-so as to fix the right belief about God, and to perpetuate the right view and perception of Him. At the same time it is very true that not to try the evidence, and not to prosecute the guidance of the light which we have about any doctrine, argues either a dislike to that doctrine, or an indifference about it so that any slight amendment which may be made of the English translation upon this score does not affect the truth which it here sets before us, that God gives over to a reprobate mind, those who do not like to retain Him in their knowledge.

But the term 'reprobate' too, admits of some little remark in the way of explanation. In its prevailing acceptation, it suggests to our minds a hopeless and abandoned wickedness of character; and so is expressive of a diseased state of the

moral principles. In its primary sense it was equivalent to the term undiscerning, or undistinguishing; and so is expressive of a darkened state of the understanding. In your larger Bibles, you will find a reprobate mind rendered on the margin into a mind void of judgment. But still it is judgment, not exercised on any secular or philosophical question, but the judgment of what is moral and spiritual-that kind of judgment where error leads necessarily and immediately to practical unrighteousness; and where therefore the love of the unrighteousness disposes us to prefer the 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 in a state of progressive corruption. But he rather sketches out to us in this chapter the progress of the world's degeneracy from one age to another; and we would infer from his account that men, in the first instance, had a far more clear and convinced sense


of God; but, not liking to retain it, committed the sin of a perverse disposition against the light which they had, and in part extinguished it-that they of course left their own immediate posterity, in a light more shaded and reduced than that which shone around the outset of their own progress through the world-that these still disliked the remainder of truth which they enjoyed; and, by their wilful resistance to its lessons inflicted upon it a further mutilation, and transmitted it to their descendants with a still deeper hue of obscurity thrown over it-that thus, by every successive step from one generation to another, the light of divine truth went down in this world's history more tarnished and impaired than ever; but still with such glimpses as, however feeble and however faded, were enough at least to try the affection of man towards it, were enough to stir up a distinct resistance on the part of those who disliked it, were enough to keep up the responsibility of the world, and to retain it in rightful dependence on the judgment of Him who made the world-so as to make it clear on the day of reckoning, that men, even in their state of most sunken alienation from the true God, were never, like the beasts that perish, so helplessly blind, and so destitute of all capacity for discerning between the good and the evil, as to render them the unfit subjects of a moral sentence and a moral examination. With every human creature who shall be pronounced worthy of death on that day, will it be seen that there was

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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 wilfully of their own bringing on, than for those who stood on the ground of rebellion amid the full blaze and effulgency of light from Heaven. Yet still, there shall not be one unhappy outcast in that abode of eternal condemnation, who will not be convicted of sin knowing it to be so; who, whatever be the age or country of the world which he occupied, has not been plied with admonitions which he resisted, and urged by such an authoritative sense of duty as he trampled upon-and that too, in the spirit of a daring and presumptuous defiance. In short, be his ignorance what it may, there was a wilful depravity which went beyond the limits of his ignorance-Be that region of human affairs over which he roamed in utter darkness as extended as it may, still there was a region of light upon which he made his intrusions with the intelligent purpose, and in the determined spirit of a rebel-Let the moral geography of the place he occupied be as remote as it may, still there was a Law the voice of which at times did reach him, and the sanctions

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