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were favoured with no ' means of grace,' and were therefore without' the hope of glory.'—And does not every one perceive that all these particulars are equally true concerning the nations which still remain strangers to Christianity?
According to the apostle, the Gentiles " had no "hope." When the woman of Samaria inquired of our Lord whether the Jews or the Samaritans worshipped God aright, he answered," Ye worship "ye know not what, we know what we worship; "for salvation is of the Jews." If then, by the express testimony of Christ himself, the Samaritans, who were not gross idolaters, "knew not what "they worshipped," because they did not adhere to those ritual appointments, which represented Jehovah as a just God and a Saviour, through the promised Messiah and his redemption; it must follow that the gentiles, being "without Christ." have likewise " no hope," With whatever speculations some few philosophical men amused themselves and others, concerning the Deity and the immortality of the soul; or whatever expectations they formed of happiness after death; it is evident that they had nothing worthy to be called hope. In general they had no fixed belief of that future state about which they speculated: they knew scarcely any thing concerning the happiness or misery which there awaits every human being; or what preparation of heart was requisite even to the enjoyment of happiness, could they have been admitted into the regions of the blessed. Uncertainty rested on all their reasonings, which had no abiding good effect on their practice. The love of this present world was the main spring of all their actions; their confidence of the divine favour was the result of ignorance and proud self-flattery; and so they lived and died, not indeed without presumption, but without any well-grounded hope of future happiness: for every warranted hope of this kind must be derived from divine revelation. "Life "and immortality are brought to light by the "gospel:" which fully assures us of a future and eternal state of retributions; and shews us the only way of escaping everlasting punishment and obtaining everlasting felicity. The plan of salvation, through the redemption of the Son of God, and sanctification by the Holy Spirit, is clearly revealed. The object of hope, and the ground of hope, are set before us in the gospel; the means of grace are appointed: and all who believe, and wait on the Lord in the honest use of these means, are assuredly made partakers of the blessing. So that the poorest and most illiterate true believer can give a vastly clearer and more intelligent account, and solid reason of his hope of happiness in a future world, than the whole company of ancient pagan philosophers and modern infidels together ever did or ever can give: while his character proves that it is hope and not presumption; "for every man that "has this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as "He" (his Lord and Saviour) " is pure."
In the judgment of the apostles, the Gentiles were also " without God in the world," or atheists, for so the word signifies. Not that they were in general avowed atheists; for indeed very few of them were: yet the expression must denote more than that thev lived as if there had been no God; for this might with equal truth have been said of numbers among the Jews; and it now may be asserted of vast numbers who are called Christians. The meaning evidently is, that the idols which the heathen adored were in all respects unworthy to be called God; as the apostle reasons in other places: "When ye knew not God, "ye did service to them "which by nature are no Gods."l "An idol is no"thing in the world, and there is no other God but "one: for, though there be that are called gods, "whether in heaven or in earth: as there be gods "many and lords many; but to us there is but one "God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we "in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom "are all things, and we by him."2—In one view the idols of the Gentiles were nothing but "gold, "silver, and stone, graven by art and man's de"vice;" in another, they were demons, or the departed spirits of men, commonly very bad men; and, in another, the worship of them was in fact the worship of Satan and his angels: for, saith the apostle, "the things which the Gentiles sacrifice "they sacrifice to devils and not to God, and I "would not that ye should have fellowship with "devils." Hence it is that Satan is called " the "god," as well as " the prince, of this world;" being the grand, though concealed, object of religious worship to mankind in general, as well as their lord and tyrant: for the apostle declares, "We "know that the whole world lieth in wickedness," or rather in the wicked one ; and " the old serpent, "called the Devil and Satan," (Abaddon, Ayollyon, the destroyer,) "has deceived the whole world."
Thus the religion of the Gentiles, so far from honouring God, was in his sight the most detestable of all their abominations: and it should be carefully observed, that the word abomination is used in scripture for idolatry more frequently than for any other crime, or indeed for all other crimes taken together: and therefore the apostle declared idolators to be "without excuse," however it be at present fashionable to excuse them. The two first commandments in the law are expressly made against the two grand species of idolatry. "Jea"lousy is the rage of a man :" yet this vehement indignation and deep resentment is ascribed to God, respecting idolatry, when he calls himself repeatedly " a jealous God." He " will not give "his glory to another;" and the most indignant severity of language is used against all idolatry and idolaters: not to authorize us to persecute or hate them, but to caution us against all approaches to so provoking a crime; and to excite our compassion towards the poor Gentiles, and to animate our exertions to recover them from the horrid and deplorable worship and service of the devil, in which they are at present sunk.
All the Gentiles without exception were and are idolaters, and consequently " without God in the "world;" for the few instances, mentioned in scripture, of pious persons without the church of Israel (such as Job and some others,) were not Gentiles in this sense of the word, though they lived among them. Even the philosophers, whose writings are now extolled with an evident intention of depreciating the oracles of God; while they speculated about a supreme Being, conformed, and taught others to conform, to the prevailing gross idolatry ;—perhaps with the solitary exception of Socrates, and it is doubtful whether he can be excepted: and most of them reasoned themselves into some refined species of atheism or other, so that they too were " atheists in the world;" for, "professing themselves wise, they became fools." The characters of the imaginary pagan deities drawn by selfish and licentious poets, to please sanguinary tyrants, ambitious conquerors, luxurious nobles, or a profligate multitude, were completely suited to sanction, or even consecrate, the most detestable vices, and to render the worshippers vile in proportion as they became zealous. The ordinances, in which they served these filthy demons, combined every thing pompous, jovial, and sensual, and often the most unnatural barbarities. Their temples were the recesses of debauchery, and their priests and priestesses, in general, the most shameless wretches that ever disgraced human nature. So that, besides the direct criminality of giving the glory of God to creatures, which inevitably implies the basest ingratitude, rebellion, and contempt; all kinds of wickedness were cultivated, with great success, by such a religion. Savage cruelty, fraud and imposture, gross debauchery, and every species of immorality, flourished, as in a fertile well cultured soil, in proportion as their religion was earnestly attended on. And this explains the apostle's reasoning in the first chapter of Romans, in which he considers the most detestable vices as, through the just judgment of God, springing from the idolatry of the Gentiles, as from their genuine