Owen - BX9315 O81

8 NEDITATYON5 being attended unto might lead them infallibly into the knowledge of theadivine nature. All they had of this kind was their own reasonings or imaginations, whereby they commenced the great disputers of the world; but in them they waxed vain, and their foolish heart was darkened, Rom. i. 21. They did at best but endeavour to feel after God, as men do in the dark, after what they cannot clearly discern. Acts xvii. 27. Among others, Ciceró s book de natura deorum, gives us an ex- act account of the intention of the apostle in that expres- sion. And it is at this day not wantof wit, but hatredof the mysteries of our religion, which snakes so many prone to foregoall supernatural religion, and to betake themselves unto a religion declared, as they suppose, by reason and the light of nature; like bats and owls, who being not able to bear the light of the sun, betake themselves unto the twilight, to the dawnings of light and darkness. 2. Whatever they did attain, as unto rational no- tions about things invisible and incomprehensible, yet could they never deliver themselvesfrom such principles and practices in idolatry, and all manner of flagitious sins, as that they could be of-any benefit unto them. This is so effectually demonstrated by the apostle, in the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans, as that we heed not to insist upon it. Men may talk what theyplease of a light within them, or of the power of reason to conduct them unto that knowledge of God, whereby they may live unto him: but ifthey had nothing else, if they did not boast them- selves of that light which bath its foundation and origi- nal in divine revelation alone, they would not excel them, who in the best management of their own rea- sonings, knew not God, but waxed vain in their imagi- nations. With respect unto this universal darkness, that is, ignorance of God, with horrid confusion accompanying it in the minds of men, Christ is called, and is, the light of men, the light of the world, because in and by hin, alone, this darkness is dispelled, as he is the Scan ofrighteousness.. 3, This darkness in the minds of men, this ignorance of.God, his nature and his will, was theoriginal of all evil unta the world, and yet continuesso to be. For, (l.) Hereon. did Satan erect his kingdom and throne, obtaining in his design until he bare himselfas the god AND D1scOURSES of thisworld, and was so esteemed by the roost. I-le exalted himself by virtue of this darkness'(ashe is the prince of darkness), into the place and room of God as the object of the religious worship of men. For the things which the gentilessacrfced, they sacrificed unto devils, and hot to God. 1 Cor. x. 21. Lev. xvii. 7. This is the territory of Satan; yea, the power and scep- tre of his kingdom in the minds of the children ofdiso- bedience. Hereby he maintains his dominion unto this day in many and great nations, and with individual persons innumerable. (2.) This is the spring of all wickedness and confu- sion among men themselves. I-Ience arose that flood of abominations in the old world, which God took a- way with a flood of desolation: hence were the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, which he revengedwith fire from heaven. In brief: all the rage, blood, confusion, de- solations,' cruelties, oppressions, villanies, which the worldbath seen, and is filled withal, whereby the souls of men have been, and are flooded into eternal destruc- tion, have all arisen from this corrupt fountain of the ignorance of God. (3.) Of such as those described, weare the posterity and offspring. Our forefathers in this nation, were given up unto as brutish a service of the devil, as any nation under the sun. It is therefore an effect of infi- nite mercy, that the day hath dawned on us; poor gen- tiles, and that the dayspring from on high hath visited us. The glory of this grace is expressed, Lph. iii. 5 -10. God might have left us to perish in the blindness and ignorance of our forefathers; but of his own accord, and byhis own powerful grace alone, he hath translat- edus out of darkness into his marvellous light. -But, alas! the horrible ingratitude of men for the glorious light of the gospel, and the abuse of it, will issue in a sore revenge. God was known under the Old Testament, by the revelation of his word, and the institution of his worship. This was the glory and privilegeof Israel, as the psalm- ist declares, Psalm cxlvii. 19, 20. " He sheweth his «word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto u Israel: he bath not dealt so with any nation." The church then knew him, yet so as that they had appre- hension that he dwelt in thick darkness, where they could not have any clear views of him,'Exod. xx. 21.