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for the concrete, the sins for the sinners that him from the creation of the world commit them; the wrath of God is re
are clearly seen, being understood vealed against all ungodliness and unright by the things that are made, even cousness of men : that is, against all ungodly and unrighteous persons : the mean
his eternal power and Godhead : so ing is, that God will certainly punish these
that they are without excuse sins upon the persons of the sinners. Ob. serve, 3. The special aggravation of these The apostle here proceeds in acquainting their sins, or inat which made them so us with that knowledge of God which the very provoking 10 Almighty God, namely, heathens had by the light of nature, which that they held the truth in unrighteous. was in their hearts, and augmented and ness; that is, their natural convictions were increased by what of God they saw in the kept down under the dominion and power book of the creatures, namely, in the works of their corruptions. Lust in their wills and of creation and providence : The invisible affections was too hard for the light in their things of God from the creation of the understandings: they entertained the light world are clearly seen, &c. The sense I of truth in their minds, but did not suiter conceive is this: the wise and wonderful it to have its proper effect and influence frame of the world, which cannot reasonupon their hearts and lives; thus making ably be ascribed to any other cause but that a prisoner which would have made God, is a sensible demonstration to all man. them free. Leam, l. That it is a very kind of an eternal and powerful being, great aggravation of sin for men to offend that was the author and contriver of it. against the convictions of their own con- The strokes of the Creator's hand are en. sciences. 2. That the wrath of God is graven in all parts of the universe; the dreadfully incensed against all those that heavens, the earth, and the capacious sea, live in any course of sin, rebelling against with all things contained in them, are evithe dictates and convictions of their own dent testimonies of the excellency of their enlightened consciences. Dread it then as original cause : and therefore such of the thou dreadest hell itself; to sin against heathens of old as shut their eyes, and such koowledge, to rebel against the light of of the Atheists at this day as wink hard, thy own mind, to slight the whispers, to and will not see the footsteps of a Deity in stifle the voice of thy own conscience; but the works of creation and providence, are, reverence and obey its dictates as the com- and will be, everlastingly left without inands of God.
Learn hence, 1. That much of the
being and essential perfections of God may 19 Because that which may be be known by the light of nature, if attended known of God is manifest in them ; to; and much more may be understood for God hath shewed it unto them,
by the book of the creatures, if attentively
looked into. The invisible things of God That is, much of the nature and proper- are clearly seen from the creation; that ties of God may be known by the light of is, the creation of the world is a plain denature; his infinite power, wisdom, and monstration to men of the being and powgoodness, are manifest in the minds and er of God. Learn, 2. That all such perconsciences of all men; For God hath sons will be left for ever without excuse sheved it unto them, partly by imprinting before God, who either extinguish the light these notions of himself upon the hearts of of nature, and smother the natural notices all men, and partly by ihe book of the which they have of God, or do not imcreatures, in which his glorious attributes prove them by a due consideration of the are written in large and legible characters. works of God. Without opening the eye Learn hence, That all men have a natural of reason, the book of the creation is of no knowledge of God, and those great duties more use to us than to the brute beasts. which result from the knowledge of him. They see the creatures as well as we; but 2. That the natural knowledge which men many of us consider the creatures, and see have of God, if they live contrary to it, it God in the creation, no more than they ; is a sufficient evidence of their holding the and this will leave us without cxcuse. truth of God in unrighteousness, and is a Learn, 3. How endearing are our obligaGod-provoking and wrath-procuring sin. tions to Almighty God, for the favour and
benefit of divine revelation, that together 20 For the invisible things of with the light of nature, we have the su
peradded light of scripture; the law to pay that homage and honour to the Deity convince us of our sin, the gospel to dis- which they should. Learn thence, That cover a Saviour. The heathen had only the knowledge which we have of God and those natural apostles of sun, moon, and his attributes, if it do not engage us to honstars, to guide them to God, and instructour, glorify, and worship him, suitably them in their duty to him; but we have the to his adorable perfections, it is vain and wisdom of the Father, the incarnate Son of useless in God's account, and will but God, and his inspired apostles and minis. expose us to a more dreadful condemnation ters, to lead us into all truth, and his Holy Another sin mentioned in this verse, which Spirit to excite and quicken us in our obe- the Heathens were guilty of, was the sin of dience to him. Therefore eternally magni. unthankfulness. They glorified him not fied be omnipotent love, for the light of as God, neither were they thankful. scripture, for the benefit of divine revela. That is, they had not a due sense of the tion. For though there be a natural the- favours and bonefits of God conferred upon ology, there is not a natural christology; them; but ascribing the blessings of heaven there is a natural divinity, but not a na- to chance and fortune, to fate and destiny, tural gospel ; a knowledge of God by the to the influence of the stars and planets, io light of nature, but no knowledge of Je- their own prudence and providence, they sus the Mediator, without the light of paid their thanks to blind fortune for a fascripture. All thanks, eternal thanks, be vour which the eye of Providence had beto God for his unspeakable gift! Lord, stowed upon them. It is impossible that how will all such as contemn it be left God should receive the tribute of thankful. without excuse !
ness, if we do not see all our mercies flow.
ing from him. Observe farther, The sad 21 Because that, when they knew effect, fruit, and consequence, of the foreGod, they glorified him not as God, mentioned sins. The heathens which neither were thankful, but became committed them, it is said, 1. That they bevain in their imaginations, and their came vain in their imaginations ; that is, foolish heart was darkened :
they had various opinions and vain con
ceptions of the Godhead. Some of thein From this verse to the end of the chapter denied that there was a God, others doubted we have a large and black catalogue of the whether there was a God or no; some afsins which the old heathens or Gentiles formed there was but onc God, others ownwere guilty of; some of which they volun- ed a plurality, yea, a multiplicity of gods. tarily committed, and others they were Some acknowledged God's being, but judicially delivered up unto (for God with. denied his providence: others owned his out any impeachment of his holiness often providence, but confined it in its exercises punishes sin with sin.) Their sins volun- io secondary causes. Thus vain in their tarily committed are here recited, and the imaginations, thus absurd in their notions, first of them is their sinning against light and and thus sottish in their reasonings, were knowledge. They had some natural notices the heathens concerning God, his nature, of God implanted and imprinted in their and worship. Well might our apostle minds, and such an additional knowledge say, They became vain in their imagi. of his being and attributes, as might be nations. And, 2. That their foolish gained by an attentive study in the book of hearts were darkened; that is, for reihe creatures; but they rebelled against this belling against the light received, their light, and thereby contracted an aggravated minds and understandings were more and guilt. Learn thence, That to sin against more darkened ; their natural reason oblight and knowledge, either in the omis- scured, because not improved. Lord, how sion of duty, or commission of sin, is the dangerous is it not to improve our knowhighest aggravation of sinfulness; as ig- ledge: how fatal to rebel against the light norance lesseneth, so knowledge aggravat- and convictions of our own minds! it proeth the malignity of sin. The next sin vokes thee to deliver us up to the power of charged upon them was, they did not glorify spiritual darkness on earth, and consign us that God whom they had the knowledge over to an eternal darkness in hell, where of: that is, they did not conceive of him is reserved the blackness of darkness for and worship him as became his divine per- ever, as the punishment and portion of tections and excellences ; they did not es. those that rebel against the light, and sin teem so highly of him as they ought, and against knowledge.
22 Professing themselves to be God punished the idolatry of the heathens wise, they became fools, 23 And here, by delivering them up to rile affecchanged the glory of the uncorrupti- tions, to uncleanness and unnatural lusts. ble God into an image made like to But how is this consistent with God's holi
ness and hatred of sin ? Thus: God nei. corruptible man, and to birds, and ther infuses sin into their hearts, nor excites four-footed beasts, and creeping to sin in their lives, but leaves sinners to things.
themselves, to act without restraint accord. The next sin which the apostle charges corruptions: and also gives them up to
ing to the inclination of their own lusts and upon the Gentiles, is the sin of idolatry, Satan, that unclean Spirit, who will not Such as professed themselves to be the most fail to provoke them to such uncleanness as wise and knowing men among them, as he knows their inclinations stand ready to their celebrated philosophers, poets, and comply with. Lord ! keep back thy serorators, they debased and dishonoured the
vants from sinning against the light of all-glorious God, by framing vile images nature, against the light of scripture, lest of men and beasts, of birds and creeping we be judicially darkened, and given up to things, to represent him by. These idol
a sottish and injudicious mind, to hardaters changed the glory of the living, ever- ness of heart, and the vilest affections. living God, into the likeness of lifeless things; whereas the Lord is so infinitely 25 Who changed the truth of glorious, that nothing can set forth his glory God into a lie, and worshipped and sufficiently; the most excellent creature served the creature more than the cannot represent his super-excellent perfec- Creator, who is blessed for ever. tions, and accordingly it is as real a de
Amen. basing of the divine Majesty to represent him
26 For this cause God gave by an angel, as by a worm or a fly. All at them up unto vile affections : for tempted representations of God by any crea- even their women did change the nature whatsoever, are idolatrous provocations. tural use into that which is against 24 Wherefore God also gave
them nature : 27 And likewise also the up to uncleanness, through the lusts men, leaving the natural use of the of their own hearts, to dishonour their woman, burned in their lust one toown bodies between themselves :
ward another; men with men workObserve here, 1. Another infamous sining that which is unseemly, and recharged upon the heathens ; namely, the ceiving in themselves that recomsin of uncleanness, yea, base, unnatural pence of their error which was meet. uncleanness, and pollutions of the most 28 And even as they did not like to odious kinds. Learn thence, That idolatry retain God in their knowledge, God and uncleanness often go together. Solo- gave them over to a reprobate mind, mon's uncleanness led him to idolatry, and to do those things which are not his idolatry increased his uncleanness.
convenient ; The city of Rome at this day, which is a grove of idols, the chief seat of idolatry, is Here our apostle proceeds to give a parnext to a Sodom for uncleanness; witness ticular and distinct account of the abomitheir allowing of stews by public authori- nable idolatry and unnatural filthiness, ty. Learn, 2. That all kinds and degrees which he had charged the heathens with of pollutions, both natural and unnatural, in the foregoing verscs. As to their idolaare to be detested, and abhorred, as disho. try, he had told us at the 23d verse, that nouring the body. Our bodies are Christ's they had made false and unworthy repremembers, the Holy Ghost's temples ; let sentations of the ever-blessed God; worus therefore glorify God with our bodies shipping God in and by the creatures. on earth, which shall be subjects capable In this 25th verse, they are charged with a of glory with himself in heaven. Observe, false object of their worship, giving divine 2. God's judiciary tradition of these idol- honour to a creature: They changed the atrous heathens to the sin of uncleanness: truth of God into a lie ; that is, the true Wherefore God
gave them up to unclean. God into an idol : called a lie, because it ness, Almighty God often doth, and al. deceives men as a lie doth, by seeming to ways righteously may, punish sin with sin. be that which indeed it is not : it seems,
in the idolater's fancy, to have something remain in and under the power and domiof divinity in it; when in reality it is nion, the vassalage and slavery, of these imbut wood or stone. Every image of God perious lusts, which perpetually rage within is a false and lying representation of God. them, and incessantly contest and scuffle Secundly, As to their uncleanness, he shows for the throne. Learn, 3. To stand astonishthat they were so given up to the ravings ed at the heart-changing grace of God, of lusts, for sinning against the light of which has delivered thee from so dismal a nature, that they forsook the order of nature, condition. O! fall down and kiss the feet and were
more brutish than the very of mercy; adore the sovereignty and freebrutes. Learn hence, That when men pro- ness of divine grace, which stept in so voke God finally to forsake them, and ju- seasonably to thy rescue. Lord! what dicially io give them up to their own hearts' black imaginations, what vile affections, lusts, they will not stick to commit such what hellish desires, what monstrous abo. monstrous and unnatural uncleanness as minations, were lodged in my heart and the very brute beasts abhor.
Here men nature, before regenerations wrought a and women burnt in worse than beastly change! O that ever the Holy Ghost Justs towards those of their own should set his eyes upon any of the sinful Lord! if we are not more vile than the offspring of apostate Adam; in whom were vilest of thy creatures, we owe it all to thy legions of unclean lusts, and whose nature sanctifying, or at least to thy restraining was become the sink and seed-plot of all grace. As by the grace of God we are sin! Observe lastly, Two particular sins, what we are; so by his grace it is that we which of all others seem most monstrous in are not what we are not.
these heathens. 1. They were haters of 29 Being filled with all unright- God, not of his essence, being, and goodcousness, fornication, wickedness, Dess, but haters of his holiness, justice, and covetousness, maliciousness ; full ral affection. This appeared by sacrificing
providence. 2. They were without natuof envy, murder, debate, deceit, ma- their children to their idols; and exposing lignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, themselves and their dearest relations to haters of God, despiteful, proud, ruin. No sooner did we fall out with God, boasters, inventors of evil things, but we fell out with ourselves and one disobedient to parents, 31 With another. out understanding, covenant break- 32 Who knowing the judgment ers, without natural affection, im- of God, that they which commit placable, unmerciful :
such things are worthy of death, Here the apostle sums up the sins which
not only do the same, but have the heathens committed against the second table, or against their neighbour; not that pleasure in them that do them. every particular person was guilty of all The apostle here closcs the chapter with these black crimes, but all were guilty of the blackest character that could be given some, and some perhaps were guilty of all of the Gentiles' sin, namely, that although or most of them. Learn hence, That the by the light of nature, and the dictates of heart of man doth naturally swarm and natural conscicnce, they knew that their abound with strange and monstrous lusts adulteries and unnatural lusts did deserve and abominations. —Lord! what a swarm death, and expose them to the wrath of is here! and yet there are multitudes inore God, yet they not only committed those in the depths of the heart. Whatever abo- sins themselves, but took a real pleasure minations were found in the hearts and lives and delight in those that committed them. of heathens and Sodomites, and the most Now this was the top and height of their profligate wretches under heaven, are radi- wickedness. It is a greater wickedness to cally and seminally in our corrupt and de- approve and applaud sin, than it is to act generate natures, Matt. xv. 19. Out of the and commit sin; to delight in sin, is worse heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, than to do sin. A man may fall into sin adulteries, &c. What are lusts, but so by the policy of the tempter, and the premany toads spitting of venom and spawn- valency of temptation, but by consideration ing of poison ? O deplorable degradation! may be brought to a sense of his folly, and Learn, 2. How much sadder is the condi- repent of it; but when he is arrived to such tion which unregenerate souls abide in, who a pitch of wickedness, that he not only approves and applauds, but takes pleasure and that judgest another, and by doing the delight in the wickedness of others, this de- same things condemnest thyself. Learn monstrates such a strong affection to sin, as hence, 1. That it is too usual and common brings a man nearest to the devil in sinning. a practice to condemn that sin in another Learn bence, 1. That there is in God an which men practise theinselves. 2. That avenging justice, engaging him to punish when persons commit themselves the sins sin with the elernal death of the sinner. which they censure and condemn in others, 2. That there is that evil malignity in sin, they are totally inexcusable, and pronounce which deserves the judgment and sentence sentence against themselves. of eternal death. 3. That this desert of sin, as also the vengeance of God upon the sin- 2 But we are sure that the judgner, is sufficiently made known to all men ; ment of God is according to truth, to some by the light of nature, to others
against them which commit such by the superadded light of scripture. 4. That notwithstanding this discovery of sin's things. 3 And thinkest thou this, desert of divine wrath, yet multitudes of O man, that judgest them which do sinners every where do not only commit such things, and doest the same, wickedness themselves, but delight in it, that thou shalt escape the judgment and in them that do it, which lays them of God? under an aggravated guilt, and will both heighten and hasten their condemnation :
As if the apostle had said, We that are Who knowing the judgment of God, thai Jews know, by the light of the scripture, they who do such things are worthy of what the Gentiles knew imperfectly by the death, not only do the same, but take light of nature, that the just God judges pleasure in them that do them.
uprightly, according to truth, and not
according to appearance. It is equitable CHAP. II.
that he should, and certain that he will,
deal with men according to his word, and The apostle haring is the first chapter discovered at large tbe rueful state of the Gentiles by nature,
reward every man according to his work.
Think not then, O Jew! who judgeth the belling against the light atid law of nature : in Gentiles for doing such things against the this second chapter he comes to speak of the Jews, and lays them as low as he did the Gentiles,
law of Moses, that thou shalt escape the upon desigu to convince both of their utter im- judgment of God, which they have so posibility of being justified before God by any severely felt. Learn hence, That such is righteousness of their own, but only by faith in
God's hatred against sin, and such is the
impartiality of his justice towards sioners, THEREFORE thou art inexcusa- that no offenders can expect escaping the
ble, Oman, whosoever thou judgment of God for presumptuous singing, art that judgest : for wherein thou Thinkest thou, O man, that thou shalt judgest another, thou condemnest escape the judgment of God? No af
fection, or nearness of relation, can blind thyself; for thou that judgest, doest God, or put out the eye of his justice. If
Gentile or Jew sin together, they shall Lest the Jews should swell and be pufft
suffer together; for there is no respect of up with pride, by hearing what the apostle persons with God: God will judge men said in the former chapter, of the detestable
in truth and righteousness, and condemn wickedness of the Gentiles, and the heavy profession be. Learn, 2. That no man's
every sinner, whatever his knowledge or displeasure of God against them for the zeal in condemning sin in others will jussame, St. Paul in this chapter pronounces tify or save him, if he lives in sin himself : the Jews to be guilty of the same sios, Think not, 0 man, that thou shalt escape of which he had accused the Gentiles, the judgment of God. affirming that the Jews had offended as much against the law of Moses, as the 4 Or despisest thou the riches of Gentiles had offended against the law of his goodness, and forbearance, and
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,
and their worse condition by reason of sin, in re
the same things.