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ther to clear up the point, the apostle seenis to go on, as it were, to say—“Yea, it is evident that the present ignorance of the Gentile nations is affected, and so inexcusable, not only from the sufficiency of their present outward advantages, but also from their former misimprovement of the advantages which they heretofore did enjoy. Because, (ver. 21.) when they knew God, i. e. when the heathen nations formerly had right potions of God instilled into them, being instructed in the knowledge of the true God, by Noah and his sons, from whom they descended, yet then they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful ; their instructions had no influence upon them to make them holy: but they became vain in their imaginutions, and their foolish heart was darkened ; i.e. they soon fell off to idolatry, and lost that knowledge of the true God, in which they had been instructed and educated: For (ver. 28.) they did not like to retain God in their knowledge; i. e. to remember those instructions which had been given them concerning the nature and perfections of God* : But they aban

wickedness, because they did, or might have known better than to do so, it may be easily answered, from the 18th verse, that he means to prove that they were altogether inexcusable, not only in their gross sins, but also in all their ungodliness and unrighteousness, i. e. plainly, in all their want of a perfect conformity to the moral law, or law of nature ; for the least degree of non-conformity, in heart or life, to the first table of the law, is a degree of ungodliness ; and the very least degree of non-conformity to the second table of the law, is a degree of unrighteousness. And St. Paul is express in it that the wrath of God is retealed from heaven against all ungodliness, &c. And, in ver. 21, he is full in it that the heathen are wholly inexcusable for not glorifying God as God, which is manifestly all that the law ever required ; so that it is plain he does not design merely to prove that they were inexcusable in their idolatry, and the gross wickedness of their lives, but also that they were inexcusable in, and wholly to blame for their not being perfectly holy; for they did, or might have known, that God deserved to be loved with all their heart, and their neighbour as themselves.

* And I may add. Concerning the seed of the woman ; the promised Messiah, and the way of salvation through him; for, no doubt, Noah and his sons had heard of this promise, and told it to their posterity; and if they had handed it down safe from age to age, the heathen world might, throughout all generations, have been in a salvable state ; for this promise contained the sum and substance of the gospel. Methuselah lived two hundred and forty years in the days of Adam; Noah lived six hundred, and his sons about a hundred years in the days of Methuselah : and Isaac was fifty years old before all Noah's sons were dead : so that this promise might easily have been handed along down by tradition, and doubtless Fould have been so, had it been precious in the eyes of the children of men : And


doned themselves to idolatry ; (ver. 23, 25.) For which cause, (ver. 24. 26.) for which contempt cast on God, God gave them up to all manner of wickedness ; so that the present extreme ignorance, blindness, and wickedness of the Gentile nations, they have, through their aversion to God and love to sin, brought themselves into : so that it is manifest they do not desire the knowledge of God, but evidently hate all right notions of him, and so are, beyond dispute, without excuse ; which was the point to be proved.” Thus he proves that they are without excuse, because their present advantages for the knowledge of God are sufficient; which advantages, ever since the creation of the world, have been common to all; and because they had once superadded advantages from parental instructions, which, instead of well improving, and of carefully handing down from generation to generation, they hated to remember, and so soon forgot.

And these passages ought to be of more weight to decide the case, because they are not merely occasional strokes, but the apostle is evidently upon the very same point that I am : For, from the 18th verse of this fisrt chapter, to the 19th verse of the third, he is industriously labouring to prove, that both Jerus and Gentiles are all under sin, and so the whole world guilty before God : And his arguments are not fetched from Adam's first sin, but from comparing them with the law of God, whereby he discovers their weaknesses; all the blame whereof, he entirely lays upon them: and because it might have been objected, that the heathen world had not sufficient means of knowledge, und so were not wholly to blame and inexcusable in their nonconformity to the law, he does here designedly obviate the objection, and prove and declare them to be without any objection from that quarter. The apostle evidently takes it for granted, that they had sufficient natural powers to capacitate them for the knowledge of God, and he proves that their outward advantages were sufficient; and so he lays the whole blame of their ignorance, blindness, and wickedness upon themselves; and finally sums them up, with the rest of mankind, as having their mouths stopped, and standing guilty before God. Chapter iii. 19. afterwards, further light might have been obtained from Israel, God's peculiar people, by the Gentile nations, had they really been desirous of it.

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The truth of the case seems, in a few words, to lie here ; that if Adam bad never fell, the works of creation and providence had been the glass in which he himself, and all his posterity, would have beheld the glory of the Lord, froin age to age; whereby, being naturally of a right temper, they would have been effectually influenced to love him, live to him, delightiv him, and praise him for ever; or, in St. Paul's words, To glorify God as God, and be thankful. And I suppose that all mankind, still having the same natural powers, and the same outward advantages, are therefore entirely to blame for, and wholly inexcusable in, all their ignorance, blindness, and wickedness ; especially considering they perfectly love to be what they are, and hate to be reclaimed, and stand ready to resist the light when offered, and shut their eyes against the truth, from whatever quarter it comes. The heavens, still as clearly as ever, do declare the glory of the Lord, and the firmament shou'eth his handy work; day unto day uttrreth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. Psalın xix. 1. The natural perfections of God are clearly to be seen in all his works at the first glance, and bis morul perfections would be equally evident to an intelligent creature of a right teinper at the second thought: And then bis glory would immediately shine brighter than the sun, and every heart be ravished with his infinite beauty. But such is our alienation from the Deity in this apostate world, and such the vitiated temper of our minds, that while angels see the divine glory in all his works, (Red. iv. 11.) men, sottish brutish men, though they have eyes to see, see not; but are blind to the manifestations which God makes of himself, because they do not like to have God in their knowledge. And now,

3. As to the heathens being accepted for honestly improring their powers and advantages, it is, in the first place, most certain, from St. Paul's account, that they were at the very greatest distance from doing so. But, secondly, if they had done so, yea, if they had discovered so good a temper of mind as perfectly to have conformed to the divine law, yet it is the very scope of all the apostle's reasoning, in the three first chapters of his epistle to the Romans, to prove that. by the deeds of the law no flesh, neither Jew nor Gentile, can be justified. And

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since the law is holy, just, and good, it is not, indeed, reusonable that anything short otsinless perfection, from 1rst to last, should pass with the righteous Governor of the world as a condition of acceptance. Future obedience, let it be ever so perfect, can do nothing to make amends for former neglects; as has been already proved in another place. But that which, of itself alone, is entirely sufficient to say in this matter, is, that it is expressly declared, in Rom. i. 18. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, (or every breach of the first table,) and unrighteousness, (or every breach of the second table of the law,) of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness ; which words are evidently designed by the apostle to represent the character and state of the heathen world; for he spends the rest of the chapter in enlarging upon this head, showing how the heathen held the truth in unrighteousness, and were exposed to the wrath of God for their ungodliness and unrighteousness; and he concludes thein all under sin and guilty, and lost for ever, unless they obtain justification by faith in Christ. (See chapter iii. 9. 19. 20. 30. verses.) And thus we see how all mankind have not only sufficient natural powers, but also sufficient outward advantages to know God, and perfectly conform to his law, even the heathen themselves; and that the very reason they do not, is their want of such a temper as they ought to have, and their voluntary, rooted enmity to God, and love to sin*. And now that they are wholly to blame and entirely inexcusable, appears still in a clearer light.

OBJ. But it is impossible they should love God with all their hearts, if they have no hopes of finding favour in his sight; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a REWARDER of them that diligently seek him ; Hebrews xi. 6.

Ans. Coming to God, in Heb. xi. 6. evidently implies not only a conformity to the law, but also a compliance with the gospel ; i. e. it implies not only a disposition to love God with all our hearts, but also a trusting in him for the divine favour and eternal life upon gospel-encouragements; which gospel-encouragements must, therefore, be understood and believed, or it will indeed be impossible so to trust in him. But I did not say that the heathen were under sufficient outward advantages for an evangelical returning to God, which is what is intended in Heb. xi. 6. but only for a compliance with the law of nature, which is what is intended in Rom. i. 20, 21.

OBJ. But still is it not, in the nature of things, impossible they should love God, if they have no hopes of finding favour in his sight? VOL. 1.


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But before I leave this point, I'must make this remark, viz. That if God looks upon the advantages of the heathen sufficient, no wonder that he so often speaks of the advantages of his own professing people as being much more than barely sufficient, even although they enjoy only the outward means of grace, without the inward influences of the stoly Spirit: for, if the natural advantages of the heathen are sufficient, surely "he supernatural advantages of those who enjoy a divine revelation, are much more than sufficient. And if the advantages of those who enjoy only a divine revelation are much more than sufficient, no wonder then that those who lived in the days of Moses, Isaiah, and Christ, are represented as very monsters of wickedness, for reinaining blind, senseless, impenitent, and unholy, since they enjoyed such great, and so many superadded advantages. No wonder, therefore, that Moses every where represents the children of Israel as such a stubborn, perverse, stiff-necked, rebellious people, (particularly see Deut. ix.) and makes as if their blindness, senselessness, and impenitency, were most unaccountable and inexcusable, since their eyes had seen, and their ears had heard such things, and their advantages had been so great. Deut. xxix. 2, 3, 4. And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; (and that he might set forth the greatness of the things which they had seen, he adds,) The great temptations which thine

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Ans. Let common sense decide the case : A servant hates his master (a very good man,) without cause, murders his only son, steals a thousand pounds of his money, runs away into a far country, spends several years in riotous livivg; at length he is caught, brought home to his master, who is a man in authority ; before him he has his trial, is condemned, and has no hope of favour. But how does this render it impossible, in the nature of things, that he should love his master? Why cannot he love his master now, as well as ever he could ? He has the same original grounds of love he used to have : He used to love his master; his master is as

as worthy of his esteem as ever. He has no cause to esteem his master any the less, because he himself has been such a villain, or because he is doomed to die for his crimes; a punishment justly due. To dislike his master for these things would be perfectly unreasonable. Surely, were he but of a right temper, he could not but take all the blame to himself, and justify his master, and esteem and love him, and be heartily sorry for all his villanies. He can be under no inability, but what must srise from a bad beart. The application is easy


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