ROMANS, I:18—24.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. 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 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. Professing them selves to be wise, they became fools, 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. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves."

THE word translated here 'to hold,' signifies not merely to hold, but to hold fast. Now this may be done for the purpose of keeping in secure possession that which you wish to retain. And so this is the word in that place where they who receive the word are said to "keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience ;" and where the Corinthians are praised by Paul because they observed "to remember him in all things, and to keep the ordinances which he had delivered them ;" and where he tells them, that they are saved if they "keep in memory that which he had preached unto them" and where he bids the Thessalonians "hold fast that which is good ;" and where he informs the Hebrews, that Christ dwelleth in them, if they "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end ;" and also that we are made partakers of Christ, if "we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end" and finally, where he encourages them to "hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering. " It is not in the sense of the word in any of these passages that we are to understand it here. They who hold the truth in unrighteousness, do not hold it for the sake of keeping it in possession, as an article which they valued; and therefore were desirous of retaining in safe and cherished custody.

Or one may hold fast for the purpose of confining or keeping down, so as to impede and repress that which is thus confined, from the putting forth of its energies. And accordingly this is the very word which Paul uses, .when he says to the Thessalonians, "And now ye know what witholdeth, that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way." He alludes to something that so confined Antichrist, as to keep him back - so that he came not out into full and immediate manifestation. It is in this second sense that men hold the truth in unrighteousness. They have the truth - they are in possession of it. But they keep it down. They chain it, as it were, in the prisonhold of their own corruptions. They throw the troublesome adviser into a dungeon - just like a man who has a conscience to inform him of what is right, but who stifles its voice, and brings it under bondage to the domineering ascendancy of passion and selfishness and all the lawless appetites of his nature. Thus it is with men who restrain the truth, or suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

Ver. 19.
'That which is knowable of God, is manifest among them. Ver. 20. 'For ever since the creation of the world, that great manifestation of God's power and Godhead, these invisible things of Him are clearly seen. Ver. 21. 'In their reasonings'.
The following then is the paraphrase of this passage. ' For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who stifle the truth in unrighteousness. Because that which might be known of God is manifest among them - for God hath shown it to them. For the invisible things respecting Him, even His eternal power and Godhead, are clearly seen - being discernible from the things that are made, so as to render them inexcusable. Because when they did know God, they did not do Him glory as to God, neither were they thankful to Him; but departing from the grave and solemn and simple reliance that was due to the Creator, they went into vain reasonings about Him, and so changed the truth into a deceitful imagination, and their foolish heart was darkened. In the profession, and in the prosecution of wisdom, they became fools: And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things.'

Our first remark on the subject-matter of this passage, is founded on the way, in which the revelation of the righteousness of God unto faith, stands as a counterpart to the revelation of the wrath of God unto all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. The wrath is not an element framed or fermented upon earth. It is conceived in heaven; and thence it cometh down on the unrighteousness of men, as the subject of it. And as with the wrath of God, so it is with the righteousness of God. It too cometh down from heaven in the shape of a descending ministration. It is no more the righteousness of man in the one case, than it is the wrath of man in the other. It is affirmed here, and most prominently referred to in other parts of the epistle, as the righteousness of God. The wrath has its origin in the breast of theDivinity; and it goeth forth from an upper storehouse, from a quarter above our world and foreign to our world; and all that the world furnishes is the reservoir into which it is poured - the unrighteousness and the ungodliness of men, which form the fit subjects for its application. And there is not an individual man who is not a fit subject of it. The wrath is unto all unrighteousness; and there is none who has not fallen into some unrighteousness. All who do these things are worthy of death; and there is not a human creature who has not done one or more of these things.

But there is a way, it would appear, in which they who are thought worthy of death and are under the wrath of God, may nevertheless be made to live. They die by the wrath of God being inflicted on them. They live by the righteousness of God being administered to them. The one is just as much the rendering of a foreign application as the other. In the one case there is a displicency at sin on the part of the Godhead; and this bodies itself into a purpose of vengeance against the sinner; and the infliction of it is sent forth from God's remote and lofty sanctuary, originating there, and coming down from thence upon the unrighteousness of man. And as with the wrath of God ministered unto the world, so it is with the righteousness of God which is ministered unto the world. It has all a separate existence in the upper courts of heaven. it is no more man's righteousness in the one case, than it is man's wrath in the other. There was a ransom found out by God. There was a surety accepted by God. There was a satisfaction which that surety rendered. There was an obedience undertaken for us by one who inhabited eternity; and with this obedience God was well pleased. There was a righteousness which He could acknowledge. There was a duteous and devoted offering, which to Him was the incense of a sweet-smelling savour. There was a virtue which shone in spotless lustre even to His pure and penetrating eye and a merit which not only met the demand of His holy law, but magnified that law and made it honourable. And all this apart from any obedience of ours. All this the produce of a transaction in which we had no share. All this a treasure existing in the repositories of that place, where the Father and the Son hold their ineffable communion - a righteousness not rendered by us, but rendered to us; and which is the only one that God can look unto with complacency.

This is the righteousness of God, standing altogether aloof and separable from the righteousness of man; and which He offers to administer to us all, in place of that wrath which, upon our refusal of His better offer, He will administer. And the way in which both the wrath and the righteousness are set before us in this passage, as being each of them a descending ministration - the one of them being as purely a dispensation from Heaven as the other - should prepare us for the still more pointed asseverations of the apostle, when he tells us that the righteousness upon which we are accepted is altogether of God, and borrows not one particle of its worth from the obedience of man; that it comes upon us in the shape of a previous and a prepared grant, which we are simply to lay hold of; that we are not the authors of it, but simply the subjects of it: And much is to be gathered from the information, that, like as the wrath of God is unto man's unrighteousness, so the righteousness of God is unto man's faith.

The question is, Whether that thing on which we are justified is the righteousness of Christ alone accepted by God, and therefore called the righteousness of
God, and rendered ours upon our receiving it by faith - or, Whether it be the righteousness of man as alone or in part the plea of man's justification. It will be found in the sequel, how strenuously and how unreservedly the apostle cleaves to the former term of this alternative; and in this opening passage of his Epistle, does he afford us no obscure or unsatisfying glimpse of that doctrine, on which he suspended the firmest securities of our peace in this world, and the dearest hopes of our eternity.

The next thing to which we direct your attention, is the precise reason that is intimated to us here, of God's provocation with man. There is something in the principle of His anger, which accords with what we experience of the movement of anger in our own bosoms. An infant or an animal may do an action which is materially wrong, without calling forth our resentment. It is the knowing it to be wrong, on the part of the doer, which is indispensable to our anger against him, being a rightful emotion; and it is neither the acting nor the thinking erroneously, on the part of man, which in itself brings down upon them the wrath of God. It is their doing so intelligently. It is their stifling the remonstrances of truth in the work of unrighteousness. It is that they voluntarily bid it into silence; and, bent on the iniquity that they love, do, in the wilful prosecution of it, drown its inward voice - just as they would deafen the friendly warning of any monitor who is standing beside them; and whose advice they guess would be on the side of what is right, and against the side of their own inclinations. Were there no light present to their minds, there would be no culpability. On the other hand, should it shine clearly upon them, this makes them responsible for every act of disobedience to its lessons.

But more, should it shine but dimly, and it be a dimness of their own bringing on - should they land in a state of darkness, and that not because any outward luminary has been extinguished; but because, in hatred of its beams and loving the darkness, they have shut their eyes - or should it be a candle within which has waned and withered to the very border of extinction, under their own desirous endeavours to mar the brilliancy of its flame - should there be a law of our nature, in virtue of which every deed of opposition to the conscience causes it to speak more faintly than before, and to shine more feebly than before, and should this be the law which has conducted every human being on the face of our earth to the uttermost depths, both of moral blindness and moral apathy - still he is what he is because he willed against the light, and wrought against the light.

It is this which brings a direct criminality upon his poison. It is this which constitutes a clear principle for his condemnation to rest upon and it is enough to fasten blame-worthiness upon his doings, that they were either done in despite of the convictions which he had, or done in despite of the convictions which but for his own wilful depravity he might have had. The Bible, in charging any individual with actual sin, always presupposes a knowledge, either presently possessed or unworthily lost or still attainable on his part, of some rightful authority, against which he hath done some act of wilful defiance. The contact of light with the mind of the transgressor, and that too in such sufficiency as, if he had followed it, would have guided him to an action different from the one he has performed, is essential to the sinfulness of that action - insomuch that on the day of reckoning, when the men of all nations and all ages shall stand around the judgment-seat, there is not one who will be pronounced an outcast of condemnation there, who will not feel an echo in his own conscience to the righteousness of the sentence under which he has fallen; and who, though living in the midst of thickest heathenism, will not remember the visitations of a light which he ought to have followed, and by resisting which he has personally deserved the displeasure of God that shall then be over him, the doom of the eternity that shall then be before him..
In the 19th and following verses, the apostle, aware that to establish the guilt of the world's unrighteousness it was necessary to prove that it was unrighteousness committed in the face of knowledge, affirms what it was that man knew originally, and how it was that the light which was at one time in them became darkness. That which it was competent to know about God, was manifest among men. God himself had showed it unto men. He had either done so by the wisdom that. shone in creation, making it plain to man's natural discernment that it was the product of a supreme and eternal intelligence; and this is one way in which we may understand how the invisible properties of the Godhead are clearly seen, even from the impress of them, stamped and evident to the. reflecting eye, on the face of creation itself. Or He had expressly revealed the fact to man that the world was created, and that He was the Author of it.

Instead of leaving them to find this out, He had made it known to them by actual communication. It is not necessary to conceive from these verses, that the doctrines of the existence and perfections of God are the achievements of man's unaided discovery at the first. In that age of extraordinary manifestations, when God put forth the arm of a Creator, He may also have put forth the voice of a Revealer; and simply announced to men that the world they lived in was a workman ship, and that He Himself was the builder and the maker of it. With the simple information that the world made not itself, but had a beginning, they could rise to the perception of Him who had no beginning. They could infer the eternity of that Being who Himself was uncreated. They could infer the magnitude of His power, seeing it to be commensurate to the production of that stupendous mechanism which lay visibly around them. They could infer His Godhead, or in other words His supremacy - the subordination of all that existed to His purpose and will - His right of property in this universe, and in all those manifold riches which fill and which adorn it - and more particularly that He originated all their faculties; that He provided them with all their enjoyments; that every secondary source and agent of gratification to them, was a mere channel of conveyance for His liberality; that, behind all which was visible, there were a power and a Godhead invisible which had been from eternity, and were now put forth in bright and beautiful development on a created expanse, where every thing was that could regale the senses, and be exuberant of delight and blessedness to the living creatures by whom it was occupied.

It is not necessary to enter into a contest about the powers or the limits of the human faculties - though we shall afterwards attempt to make it evident, that, debased and darkened as we are by sin,. there is enough of light in the human conscience to render inexcusable human ungodliness. But let us at present confine ourselves to the circumstances adverted to by the apostle, according to the historical truth of them. He is evidently describing the historical progress of human degeneracy; and begins with the state of matters at the commencement of a darkening and deteriorating process, which took place on the character of man And, without resolving the metaphysical question How far man without a direct communication from Heaven could have found his way to the being and attributes of the Divinity, let us just take up with the commencement of matters as it actually stood.

It was a period of extraordinary manifestations; and God made Himself directly and personally known, as the one Creator of all things; and men had only to look with the eye of their senses to see these things, and to conclude how much of power, how much of wisdom, how much of rightful sovereignty and ownership, belonged to Him that framed all and upholds all. We may not be sure, in how far man could, on the strength of his own unborrowed resources, have steered his ascending way to the knowledge of a God. But the communicated fact that God did exist, and that He was the framer and the architect of all, put him on high vantage ground - from which might be clearly seen the eternal power of the Supreme, and His eternal Godhead.

We have only time to advert, shortly, to the way in which the truth respecting God was changed into a lie. The creature became more loved and more depended on, than the Creator. He was not glorified as the Giver, and the Maker of all created good. But what was sensibly and immediately good, was sought after for itself, was valued on its own account, was enjoyed without any thankful reference to Him who granted all and originated and this too in the face of a distinct knowledge, that every thing was held of God - in the face of an authoritative voice, claiming what was due to God - jn the face of a conscience powerful at the outset of man's history, however much it may have been darkened and overborne in the subsequent process of his alienation.

And thus the tenure of his earthly enjoyments was gradually lost sight of altogether; and the urgencies of sense and of the world got the better of all impressions of the Deity; and man at length felt his portion and his security and his all to be, not in the Author of creation, but in the creation itself with all its gay and goodly and fascinating varieties. His mind lost its hold of a great and subordinating principle, by which he could have assigned its right place, and viewed according to its just relationship, all that was around him. The world in fact, by a mighty deed of usurpation, dethroned the Deity from the ascendancy which belonged to Him; and thus the rule of estimation was subverted within him, and his foolish heart was darkened. This disorder in the state of his affections, while it clouded and subverted his discerning faculties, did not at the same time strain 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.

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ROMAN 5, 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 infomation 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 un-righteousness 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 wilfdl 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 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 of which must when time is no more at length overtake him - Let the darkening of his foolish heart be as due as it may to the sin of his ancestors, they still left a tribunal there from which went forth upon him the whisper of many an intimation - In the darkest period of this world's abandonment, were there still the vestiges of truth before every eye, and a conscience awake in evety 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 has gone forth against him; and the echoing voice of his own memory, will be to him the knell of his righteous and everlasting condemnation.

But we should like to bring the principle of our text more distinctly and individually to bear upon you. That process in general history by which the decline of this world's light respecting God, and the decline of its practical allegiance to His authority, have kept pace, the one with the other, is often realized in the personal history of a single individual. There is a connection by the law of our nature, between his wilful disobedience and his spiritual darkness. You have read perhaps in our old theologians, of what they called a judicial blindness. It is a visitation consequent upon sin. It is a withdrawment of the Spirit of God, when grieved and discouraged and provoked by our re sistance to His warnings. It is that Spirit ceasing to strive with the children of men; and coming to this as the final result of the contest He has so long maintained with their obstinacy - He shall let them alone since they will have it so. It is an extinction of the light which they once had, but refused to be led by; and now perhaps that they have it not, may they do many an evil thing to the evil of which they are profoundly asleep, and against which their conscience, now lulled and stifled into spiritual death, lifts no voice of remonstrance whatever.

The guilt of sins committed in this state of dormancy, which is of their own bringing on, is no more done away by their insensibility to the foulness of them, than is the guilt of murder committed in the fury of wilful intoxication. And ye depraved and hackneyed old, at the doors of whose hearts we have so often knocked and knocked in vain, we bid you remember a season of alarm and tenderness which has now passed away - we ask of you to look back on the prayers and the precautions of boyhood, when, the conscience awake and at her post, you at one time trembled to think of that which you can now do without remorse and without fearfulness. Ye men who have become stout-hearted sinners, and just because the moral light which shone upon you once has been extinguished by yourselves, and by yourselves your foolish hearts have been darkened - the scruples and the sensibilities of your earlier days may all 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 pulpit - and, 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 unbroken worldliness, and act the secure and the stout-hearted sinner, who rivets all his desires and all his hopes on a slippery foundation. It is true indeed, that, with a conscience obliterated, and an inner man deaf to every awakening call, and a system of moral feelings like a piece of worn and rusty mechanism that cannot be set agoing, and an overhanging torpor upon all the spiritual faculties, so that every denunciation of an angry God and a coming vengeance is only heard like a sound that whistles by - it is indeed true that he whose soul is in a condition such as this, sits in the region and in the shadow of grossest darkness.
But it is not like the transmitted darkness of Paganism, which he can offer to plead in mitigation - or which will make his last sentence more tolerable for him even as it shall be more tolerable for Sodom or Gomorrah. It is a darkness which he loved, and into which he voluntarily entered. He made his escape to it from the light which he hated; and by his own act did be so outrun his pursuing conscience, as now to be at a distance from her warnings. If the call of repent or perish do not bring him back - it is beeause he is sealed unto the day of condemnation; it is because God hath given him over to a reprobate mind; it is because he is judicially in a state of blindness; it is because his soul is compassed with a thick and heavy atmosphere of his own gathering.

The Heathen sinner will be tried by the light which he had. The Christian sinner will be tried by the light which he fled from. This is his condemnation, that light has come into his part of 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.

We have already remarked, that, in the gradual darkening and deterioration of our world from one age to another, each age became successively more ignorant of God than the preceding; and yet with each we believe, even in the veriest wilds of savage and unwrought humanity, is there enough of light and enough of conscience, and enough of God 's law in dim but remaining vestiges, to make every individual of our species a fit subject for moral examination, and for a righteous sentence consequent upon a fair and impartial trial. Now we have not practically to do with the destinies of the unconverted Heathen - nor shall we just now enter upon this region of speculation at all. But we have immediately to do with a question which respects the immortality of our own countrymen. What is their light, and what is the degree of their condemnation if they resist it? What is the precise addition which our possession of the Bible has conferred upon our responsibility? What is the knowledge of God to which a conscientious and diligent perusal of this book might conduct us - unless we like not to receive that knowledge which we might obtain? What is the knowledge of God which we throw away from us by throwing this book away from us - and that because we like not to retain the knowledge which we might possess?

Only grant, that we are as morally and as rightfully to blame for not acquiring the light which we might receive if we had so willed it, as for not preserving the light which we might attain if we had so willed it; and the question before us is brought within a manageable compass. Is there at the very outset enough of likelihood that God might be the author of this book, as should resolve us upon a serious examination - then if God actually be the author, we have not acquired the knowledge of Him we might have done; and we shall be condemned accordingly, if we withhold the examination which ought to have been given. Is there enough of the character of the Divinity stamped upon its pages, that, had we only read with earnestness and pondered with ear nestness, we would have beheld the traces of Him distinctly there and have been satisfied - then if, instead of so reading, we have wantonly and ignorantly reviled it, God may righteously step forth, and vindicate upon our persons, 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 rjdicule of the Almighty; and you, instead, of being arrested by the impulse of such a visitation, have, in the mad outcry of a great and growing infatuation, made your strenuous effort to keep down this compunctious feeling, and have prevailed - then have you committed your selves, and that wilfully, to the hazards of this alternative - that either the Scripture is a fable, or you by the choice of your own hearts and the deed of your own hands have come under all the curses that are written in it. Certain it is, that, to whatever term of whatever alternative the world may commit itself in reference to Christianity, Christianity commits itself to a very distinct alternative in reference to the world - and if this religion indeed be true; and such be the actual influence of the human will upon the human understanding, that he who is willing to do God's will shall know of the doctrine of Christ that it is from God; and if faith in the gospel be at all times the fruit of moral honesty, duly exercised and sincerely in quest of what is right; and if the spirit of direction be given to him who has an upright feeling of desire to do as he ought, and to believe as he ought; and if every man who faithfully follows the light of his conscience, is thereby conducted to a reverence for his Bible and a reliance upon his Bible; and if infidelity be at all times the issuing product of a heart careless about God, and utterly unconcerned either to retain such knowledge of Him as it has, or to acquire such knowledge of Him as it has not - then, it may not be in the power of a fellow-man, under all those guises of candour and frankness and liberality which the unbeliever can put on, so to feel his way through the intricacies of another's spirit, as to catch the lurking criminality and bring it out in satisfying exposure to the general eye.

But let Christianity be true, and mark the fearful alternative to him who spurns it away. The unseen author of it ponders every heart; and, mysterious as its workings are to us, there is nothing in them all that can baffle the scrutiny of Him who formed it; and if there be, as the Bible says there is, an alliance between infidelity and moral evil, He can detect it, and bring it out on the day of reckoning to open manifestation - He can unveil the whole process of this miserable delusion; and at any step of it where pride or ungodliness or selfishness or profligacy did operate its bias upon the understanding, He can make it good, and that to the conviction of the unhappy man, that his judgment was in error just because his affections were in error - that there was a want of belief in his mind, just because there was a want of worth in his character - that he was not a Christian man, just because he was not an upright man - and that the light which was in him was turned 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.

To satisfy you of a real connection between the state of man's moral principles on the one hand, and the state of his intellectual principles on the other, let us have recourse to one simple illustration. For it does require to be explained. There is many an error in judgment which implies no worldliness of character whatever. A man may have a wrong opinion in matters of trade or philosophy or law; and this altogether unconnected with any wrong habit of the life, or any wrong and depraved habit of the affections. And might not he, in like manner, have a wrong opinion on a question of theology, and be so very far in the wrong as to think Christianity a fable, and all this without any moral perversity being the cause of his error Might it not be a mere mistake of the understanding for which he lies under no responsibility at all, at that bar where nothing is condemned that is not criminal? Where lies the greater fault of an error in a matter of speculation, and that because a man has a bad understanding, than 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 sin? 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? If any of you, the victim of helpless poverty, were suddenly translated into ease and affluence - and that through a ministration of liberality left at your door by the hand of some unknown benefactor - in reference to him, though utterly in the dark about his person, you may be guilty of the crime of ingratitude.

To make no enquiry about him were ungrateful. To riot in the enjoyment of the gift, without one thought of concern or curiosity about the giver, were both selfish and ungrateful. To be better pleased that you did not know and have no repayment of gratitude to make, is the very essence of ingratitude; and that too in reference to an individual whose person perhaps you never saw, and whose name perhaps you never heard. To sit at greater ease without the burden of obligation upon you to any known benefactor, than you would do if he stood revealed to your apprehension, and claimed the due return of affection or of service - this is decisive of a heart tainted with the sin of ingratitude. It is sin which keeps you from enquiring; and if carefully to enquire were certainly to 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 hand that aided you, because it is a knowledge you like not to acquire.

And thus it is, that many is the man who is ignorant of God - and yet lies under the full guilt and burden of ungodliness. Many is the man who with the world as his satisfying portion, never lifts one anxious enquiry after Him who made the world; and think you that his defective theology is as free of blame or condemnation, as is the defective scholarship? Tell, if here, a want of understanding philosophy of him who never attempted the toils of may not resolve itself into a want of principle. He does not know God. But he does not seek to know Him. His mistakes of conception regarding the Deity, or his total want of conception about Him, may be designed as mere errors of judgment, or as a mere blindness of the judgment. But it is the error and the blindness of one who wishes not to see. He grovels in ignorance; but it may be 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 realise 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 understood and authoritative voice. But let us recur again to our illustration. The unknown friend may wish to reveal himself to the man he has befriended. He may send a messenger with a letter to his door. He may inscribe such evidences of his authenticity there, as would force conviction if the letter was 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 substance 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 dislike 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 of this proceeding - that the sin of his judgment is the sin of his heart - and that unbelief which many would screen from condemnation, is in his instance unbelief fostered by his own wilful depravity, and an unbelief for which he deserves to be execrated?

And so may it be of Christianity. God 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 recognize 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 impulse of a sense of duty, may he become a stedfast 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 prayer, there might beam a celestial effulgeney 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.

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