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not to be found. Death passed upon all men, saith the Apostle, for that all have sinned. If all are, punished, all are guilty: and thus it apfrom the constitution of nature, that there

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is none righteous, no not one.

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If we now enquire, what are the effects of human depravity, and wherein this unrighteousness actually consists, the Apostle proceeds to inform us, there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. righteousness is the unavoidable consequence of ignorance; for no man can go farther in his practice than his understanding and knowledge. will carry him. Where no wheat has been sown, none is produced: but weeds are blown about with every wind; and the matter of the earth, wherever it is turned up, shews itself to be already impregnated with their seeds. The understanding here signified is not the knowledge of arts and sciences, in which men, with the advantages of education and exercise, may excel by their natural talents; but that better understanding, by which we know God and depart from evil *. This no man hath naturally every imagination of the thoughts of his heart

*And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding. Job. xxviii,

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heart is only evil continually*. It is imputed to this depravity of thought, that the wickedness of man was so great before the flood; not of this or that man in particular, but of man, of the species. What else could produce such universal corruption of manners? But it may still be objected, all this was spoken of the antediluvian race of men. It was so; but what then? are we better than they? No, in no wise.. And the scripture assures us, the day of judgment shall find the world of unbelievers just such men as they were in the days of Noah. It does not appear, that the understanding of man ever discovered the true God; but on the contrary, that when it was set on work, it was apt to extinguish that knowledge of him which is handed down by tradition†. The world, instead of knowing God by their wisdom, reasoned themselves backward from that knowledge to idolatry.

When the Hebrews apostatized and fell into the ways of the heathen, God told them by his prophet, that they made them idols according to their own understanding ||: and it is remarked.

VOL. VII.

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* Gen. vi. 5.

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+ Αρχαίος μεν εν τις λόγος, και παίριος εςι πασιν ανθρωποις, ως εκ Θεό Τα παλα, και δια Θες ήμιν συνέςηκεν. Arist. de Mundo. || Hof. xiii. 2.

1 Cor. i. 21.

of the heathens in general, that by professing themselves to be wise, that is, by reasoning on such principles as were borrowed from the fund of their own imagination, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, &c.--! That strange propensity to idolatry, which prevailed among all nations of the world, and which no man really wise can reflect upon without confusion and astonishment, would incline us to believe, there was something of the nature of that crime in the first transgression in Paradise; which brought with it an infatuation upon the children of Adam, inclining them to prefer any false object to the Creator of the world. A charge is grounded on this fatal error, which is urged with great severity by the prophet Jeremiah, and extended to the nature of men in general. Learn not, says he to the House of Israel, the way of the heathen* 0. Lord, thou art great, and thy name is great in might all the wise men of the nations are altogether brutish and foolish-the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish.-Every man is brutish in his knowledge. They (the gods of the Gentiles) are vanity and a work of errors-the portion of Jacob

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* Jer. chap. x.

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is not like them, for he is the FORMER OF ALL THINGS the Lord of Hosts is his name.-O Lord, I know that the WAY OF MAN is not in himself. That the Gentiles preferred the creature to the Creator, is a fact so notorious, that we cannot but assent to the prophet's doctrine, and conclude, that the knowledge of God's Being is not natural to the mind of man; much less of his divine will and holy law. God, who knows the extent of our understanding, hath never required us to invent true religion, but only to receive it, and to preserve it when delivered; so that great allowances have been made for those who had no opportunities of information. When the votaries of Jupiter and Mercury were exhorted by St. Paul to turn from those vanities to the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein*; the Apostle added upon this occasion, that God in times past had suffered all nations to walk in their own way. This was the way of idolatry; a way common to all nations; and which would have been followed even by the children of Abraham, unless the father had been called away from his kindred to walk before God in a state of separation from the world of idolaters. On another like occasion, when the Apostle

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* A&s xiv. 15.

Apostle preached against the heathenish superstition at Athens, he told them also, that God had winked at their idolatry, as a practice which had prevailed in the times of their ignorance*. This was a mortifying apology, when offered in behalf of men who had established a public mart of science, and valued themselves highly upon their intellectual attainments. But the case was rather worse with them than with the illiterate. Being able to multiply words by the rule of art, when they had no real knowledge of things at the bottom; and to defend and disguise their folly with the ornaments of wisdom, they were the more unlikely to forsake it: and accordingly, the Apostle had little or no success among them. All they had in view was to turn his sublime doctrine into a matter of debate, as they did every thing else; so Paul departed from among them, leaving them to the vain janglings of their own philosophy.

If it should still be made a question, after what hath been said, whether the prevailing of idolatry over the nations of the world ought to be imputed to a mistake propagated by evil communication, or to an error breeding in the mind; I think the difference in the present case is not very material. If men agreed so universally

Acts xvii. 30..

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