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of taking occasion from them to glorify the Giver. They did not seek to please him; or search after his will that they might obey it. The apostle proceeds to give a dreadful picture of the wickedness they practised. They cast out of their minds the idea of a God, to govern and restrain them, and yielded themselves up to the devices and desires of their own hearts. And God did not interfere, but left them to themselves.
24. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature : 27. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29. Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30. Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31. Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32. Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Such was the dreadful state of the heathen world, when the Lord Jesus came to call men to repentance. He saw that the world lay “dead in trespasses and sins.” He knew the consequences of such a state. We cannot for a moment doubt whether misery in another world must follow a life of depravity like that which has been represented. We could never be persuaded that men whose earthly course had been thus corrupt should be taken from it to dwell with God for ever. We must feel sure that it is impossible. And not only were they corrupt, and therefore unfit for heaven, but they were guilty, and therefore deserved the wrath and indignation of God. They were without ercuse. When they knew God, they glorified him not as God. They did not like to retain God in their knowledge. They shut their eyes against the light they had. They “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
We see in this the natural course of the human heart. Its natural course —for there was nothing to force it away from God; nothing to urge it on to such wickedness as is described in the apostle's sad picture. Men were left to their natural tendency: and we see in what course they were carried.
The natural tendency of the heart is still the same; and a constant impulse from above, and a continual effort from within, is needful, or we should be as far as the heathen were from glorifying God, or retaining him in our knowledge. We should not indeed worship four-footed beasts, or birds, or creeping things. We should not change the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man. But what is the real sinfulness of idolatry? It is the taking honour away from God, and paying it elsewhere. Therefore, to love pleasures, or riches, or honours, or anything in this world more than God, is to deny him his glory. To profane his name; to profane his sabbaths; is not to glorify him. To disregard his word, and his will; to keep it out of view in the daily habit of our lives; is not to glorify him. God is not glorified as God, merely because his existence is acknowledged. To allow that we have a sovereign on the throne, is not to honour the sovereign. To acknowledge that we have a master in authority over us, is not to honour him, unless we follow his directions. A child does not honour one whom he calls his parent, unless he reverences his words and obeys his injunctions. So it is with regard to God. To glorify him, is to feel that he is our Maker, and has a right to our service: to inquire, in our particular stations, what he “would have us to do:” to show ourselves sensible that “in him we live and move,” and that to him we must “give account of the things done in the body.”
The lesson is awful with which St. Paul concludes. There is a time, when God gives men up. And this time is hastened, by their not liking to retain him in their knowledge. When they drown the voice of conscience; when they close their ears against his word; when they disregard the means they have of knowing more concerning him; when they manifest a disposition to live as if there were no God: then his Spirit
will not always strive with men: and he gives them C
over to a reprobate mind, to follow the workings of their corrupt heart. So the heathen had been left. And if they were without eacuse, “ of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall they be thought worthy,” who neglect the clearer light which now shines upon the world, ready to “enlighten every man?”
May it “shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!”
THE SINFUL CHARACTER OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE.
ROMANs i. 1–11.
1. 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.
2. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
St. Paul had been setting forth the wickedness of the Gentiles. It showed their need of one who should redeem and convert them. Now the Jews prided themselves that they were not as the Gentiles. They had a knowledge of God; despised the worshippers of idols; kept separate from them. “It was an unlawful thing for a man that was a Jew to keep company or to come unto one of another nation.”
3 Heb. x. 29. * John i. 9. 5 2 Cor. iv. 6.
So that it was needful to show to the Jewish disciples, since there were many such who would receive his letter, that they were no more without blame, no less without excuse in the sight of God, than the Gentiles whom they looked down upon. Therefore thou art inercusable, O man, O Jewish man, whosoever thou art that judgest : for thou that condemnest another, doest the same things. “First cast the mote out of thine own eye, and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the beam out of thy brother's eye.”
3. And thinkest thou this, Oman, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4. Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering ; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance 2
5. 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.
The Jewish nation had been long and sorely threatened. John had preached the baptism of repentance; and declared that “the axe was now laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Jesus had confirmed his words, saying, “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.” But no repentance followed. They argued, “My Lord
1 Acts x. 28. * Matt. vii. 5. 3 Matt. iii. 10. * Luke xiii. 3.