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21 Because that, when they | not as God, neither were thank knew God, they glorified him ful, but became vain" in their

wonders and glories that have come fresh from the hand of God, and that every where speak his praise.

a Je.2.5. Eph.4.17,18.

fest, when we look at heaven, and contemplate heavenly things, as that there is some divinity of most excellen mind, by which these things are governed?" They glorified him not as God. They did not honour him as God. This was the true source of their abominations. To glorify him as God is to regard with proper reverence all his perfections and laws; to venerate his name, his power, his holiness, and presence, &c. As they were not inclined to do this, so they were given over to their own vain and wicked desires. Sinners are not willing to give honour to God as God. They are not pleased with his perfections; and therefore the mind becomes fixed on other objects, and the heart gives free

A willingness to honour God as God— to reverence, love, and obey him, would effectually restrain men from sin.

21. Because that. The apostle here is showing that it was right to condemn men for their sins. To do this it was needful to show them that they had the knowledge of God, and the means of knowing what was right; and that the true source of their sins and idolatries was a corrupt and evil heart. When they knew God. Greek, knowing God. That is, they had an acquaintance with the existence and many of the perfections of one God. That many of the philosophers of Greece and Rome had a knowledge of one God, there can be no doubt. This was undoubtedly the case with Pythagoras, who had travel-indulgence to its own sinful desires. led extensively in Egypt, and even in Palestine; and also with Plato and his disciples. This point is clearly shown by Cudworth in his Intellectual Sys- Neither were thankful. The oblitem, and by Bishop Warburton in the gation to be thankful to God for his Divine Legation of Moses. Yet the mercies, for the goodness which we knowledge of this great truth was not experience, is plain and obvious. Thus communicated to the people. It was we judge of favours received of our confined to the philosophers; and not fellow-men. The apostle here clearly improbably one design of the mysteries regards this unwillingness to render celebrated throughout Greece was to gratitude to God for his mercies as keep up the knowledge of the one one of the causes of their subsequent truc God. Gibbon has remarked that corruption and idolatry. The reasons "the philosophers regarded all the of this are the following. (1.) The popular superstitions as equally false; effect of ingratitude is to render the the common people as equally true; heart hard and insensible. (2.) Men and the politicians as equally useful." seek to forget the Being to whom they This was probably a correct account are unwilling to exercise gratitude. of the prevalent feelings among the (3.) To do this, they fix their affecancients. A single extract from Ci- tions on other things; and hence the cero (de Natura Deorum, lib. ii. c. 6) heathen expressed their gratitude not will show that they had the know-to God, but to the sun, and moon, and ledge of one God. "There is some-stars, &c., the mediums by which thing in the nature of things, which the mind of man, which reason, which human power cannot effect; and certainly that which produces this must be better than man. What can this be called but God?" Again (c. 2), But became vain. To become "What can be so plain and mani-vain, with us, means to be elated, or

God bestows his favours on men. And we may here learn that an unwillingness to thank God for his mercies is one of the most certain causes of alienation and hardness of heart.


imaginations, and their foolish | be wise, they became fools, heart was darkened: 23 And changed the glory of

22 Professing themselves to the uncorruptible God into an

a Jer.8.8,9.

is substantially the process by which men wander away from God now. They have the knowledge of God, but they do not love him; and being dissatisfied with his character and govern

22. Professing themselves to be wise. This was the common boast of the philosophers of antiquity. The very word by which they chose to be called, philosophers, means literally lovers of wisdom. That it was their boast that they were wise, is well known. Comp. ch. i. 14. 1 Cor. i. 19, 20, 21, 22; iii. 19. 2 Cor. xi. 19

or self-conceited, or to seek praise from others. The meaning here seems to be, they became foolish, frivolous in their thoughts and reasonings. They acted foolishly; they employed themselves in useless and frivolous ques-ment, they begin to speculate, fall into tions, the effect of which was to lead error, and then "find no end in wander the mind farther and farther from the ing mazes lost," and sink into the depths truth respecting God. ¶ Imaginations. of heresy and of sin. This word means properly thoughts, then reasonings, and also disputations. Perhaps our word, speculations, would convey its meaning here. It implies that they were unwilling to honour God, and being unwilling to honour him, they commenced those speculations which resulted in all their vain and foolish opinions about idols, and the various rites of idolatrous worship. They became fools. Comp. Jer. viii. Many of the speculations and inquiries of the ancients were among the most vain and senseless which the mind can conceive. And their foolish heart. The word heart is not unfrequently used to denote the mind, or the understanding. We apply it to denote the affections. But such was not its common use among the Hebrews. We speak of the head when we refer to the understanding, but this was not the case with the Hebrews. They spoke of the heart in this manner, and in this sense it is clearly used in this place. See Eph. i. 18. Rom. ii. 15. 2 Cor. iv. 6. 2 Pet. i. 19. The word foolish means literally that which is without understanding. Matt. xv. 16. Was darkened. Was rendered obscure, so that they did not perceive and comprehend the truth. The process which is stated in this verse is, (1.) That men had the knowledge of God. (2.) That they refused to honour him when they knew him, and were opposed to his character and government. (3.) That they were ungrateful. (4.) That they then began to doubt, to reason, to speculate, and wandered far into darkness. This D

8, 9. They became really foolish in their opinions and conduct. There is something particularly pungent and cutting in this remark, and as true as it is pungent. In what way they evinced their folly, Paul proceeds immediately to state. Sinners of all kinds are frequently spoken of as fools in the Scriptures. In the sense in which it is thus used, the word is applied to them as void of understanding or moral sense; as idolaters, and as wicked. Ps. xiv. 1. Prov. xxvi. 4; i. 17. 22; xiv. 8, 9. The senses in which this word here is applied to the heathen are, (1.) That their speculations and doctrines were senseless ; and (2.) That their conduct was corrupt.

23. And changed. This does not mean that they literally transmuted God himself; but that in their views they exchanged him; or they changed him as an object of worship for idols. They produced, of course, no real change in the glory of the infinite God but the change was in themselves. They forsook him of whom they had knowledge (ver. 21), and offered the homage which was due to him, to idols The glory. The majesty, the honour

image like to corruptible man, | beasts, and creeping things. and to birds, and four-footed

a Isa.40.18,26. Ezek.8.10.

&c. This word stands opposed here to the degrading nature of their worship. Instead of adoring a Being clothed with majesty and honour, they bowed down to reptiles, &c. They exchanged a glorious object of worship for that which was degrading and humiliating. The glory of God, in such places as this, means his essential honour, his majesty, the concentration and expression of his perfections, as the glory of the sun (1 Cor. xv. 41) means his shining, or his splendour. Comp. Jer. ii. 11, and Ps. cvi. 20. ¶ The uncorruptible God. The word uncorruptible is here applied to God in opposition to man. God is unchanging, indestructible, immortal. The word conveys also the idea that God is eternal. As he is incorruptible, he is the proper object of worship. In all the changes of life, man may come to him, assured that he is the same. When man decays by age or infirmities, he may come to God, assured that he undergoes no such change, but is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Comp. 1 Tim. i. 17. ¶ Into an image. An image is a representation or likeness of any thing, whether made by painting, or from wood, stone, &c. Thus the word is applied to idols, as being images or representations of heavenly objects. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 7. Dan. iii. 1. Rev. xi. 4, &c. See instances of this among the Jews described in Isa. xl. 18-26, and Ezek. viii. 10. To corruptible man. This stands opposed to the incorruptible God. Many of the images or idols of the ancients were in the forms of men and women. Many of their gods were heroes and benefactors, who were deified, and to whom temples, altars, and statues were erected. Such were Jupiter, and Hercules, and Romulus, &c. The worship of these heroes thus constituted no small part of their dolatry, and their images would be of urse representations of them in hu

24 Wherefore God also gave

b Ps.81.12. 2Thess. 11.

man form. It was proof of great degradation, that they thus adored men with like passions as themselves; and attempted to displace the true God from the throne, and to substitute in his place an idol in the likeness of men. And to birds. The ibis was adored with peculiar reverence among the Egyptians, on account of the great benefits resulting from its destroying the serpents which, but for this, would have overrun the country. The hawk was also adored in Egypt, and the eagle at Rome. As one great principle of pagan idolatry was to adore all objects from which important benefits were derived, it is probable that all birds would come in for a share of pagan worship, that rendered service in the destruction of noxious animals. ¶ And four-footed beasts. Thus the ox, under the name apis, was adored in Egypt; and even the dog and the monkey. In imitation of the Egyptian ox, the children of Israel made their golden calf, Ex. xxii. 4. At this day, two of the most sacred objects of worship in Hindoostan are the cow and the monkey. And creeping things. Reptiles. "Animals that have no feet, or such short ones that they seem to creep or crawl on the ground." (Calmet.) Lizards, serpents, &c. come under this description. The crocodile in Egypt was an object of adoration, and even the serpent. So late as the second century of the Christian era, there was a sect in Egypt, called Ophites from their worshipping a serpent, and who even claimed to be Christians. (Murdock's Mosheim, vol. i. p. 180, 181.) There was scarcely an object, animal or vegetable, which the Egyptians did not adore. Thus the leek, the onion, &c. were objects of worship, and men bowed down and paid adoration to the sun and moon, to animals, to vegetables, and to reptiles. Egypt was the source of the views of religion that pervaded other nations.

them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves :

and hence their worship partook of the same wretched and degrading character. (See Leland's "Advantage and Necessity of Revelation.")

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This is a repetition of the declaration in ver. 23, in another form. The phrase, "the truth of God" is a Hebrew phrase, meaning the true God. In such a case, where two nouns come together, one is employed as an adjec tive to qualify the other. Most commonly the latter of two nouns is used as the adjective, but sometimes it is the former, as in this case. God is called the true God in opposition to idols, which are called false gods. There is but one real or true God, and all others are false. Into a lie. Into idols, or false gods. Idols are not unfrequently called falsehood and lies, because they are not true representations of God. Jer. xiii. 25. Isa. xxviii. 15. Jer. x. 14. Ps. xl. 4. The creature. Created things, as the sun, moon, animals, &c. Who is blessed for ever. It was not uncommon to add a doxology, or ascription of praise to God, when his name was mentioned. See Rom. ix. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 31. Gal. i. 5. The Jews also usually did it. In this way they preserved veneration for the name of God, and accustomed themselves to speak of him with reverence. "The Mahometans also borrowed this custom from the Jews, and practise it to a great extent. Tholuck mentions an Arabic manuscript in the library at Berlin which contains an account of heresies in respect to Islam ism, and as often as the writer has occasion to mention the name of a new heretical sect, he adds, God be exalted above all which they say.' (Stuart.) ¶ Amen. This is a Hebrew word denoting strong affirmation. So let it

24. Wherefore. That is, because they were unwilling to retain him in their knowledge, and chose to worship idols. Here is traced the practical tendency of heathenism; not as an innocent and harmless system, but as resulting in the most gross and shameless acts of depravity. God gave them up. He abandoned them, or he ceased to restrain them, and suffered them to act out their sentiments, and to manifest them in their life. This does not imply that he exerted any positive influence in inducing them to sin, any more than it would if we should seek, by argument and entreaty, to restrain a headstrong youth, and when neither would prevail, should leave him to act out his propensities, and to go as he chose to ruin. It is implied in this, (1.) That the tendency of man was to these sins; (2.) That the tendency of idolatry was to promote them; and (3.) That all that was needful, in order that men should commit them, was for God to leave him to follow the devices and desires of his own heart. Comp. Ps. lxxxi. 12. 2 Thess. ii. 10. 12. To uncleanness. To impurity, or moral defilement; particularly to those impurities which he proceeds to specify, ver. 26, &c. Through the lusts of their own hearts. Or, in consequence of their own evil and depraved passions and desires. He left them to act out, or manifest, their depraved affections and inclinations. To dishonour. To be. It implies here the solemn assent disgrace. ver. 26, 27. Between themselves. Among themselves; or mutually. They did it by unlawful and impure connexions with one another.

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of the writer to what was just said; or his strong wish that what he had said might be-that the name of God might be esteemed and be blessed for ever. The mention of the degrading idolatry 25. Who changed the truth of God. of the heathens was strongly calcu

than the Creator, who is blessed the natural use into that which for ever. Amen. is against nature:

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change

a Eph.5.12. Jude 10.

lated to impress on his mind the superior excellency and glory of the one living God. It is mentioned respecting the honourable Robert Boyle, that he never mentioned the name of God without a solemn pause, denoting his profound reverence. Such a practice would tend eminently to prevent an unholy familiarity and irreverence in regard to the sacred name of the Most High. Comp. Ex. xx. 7.

26. For this cause. On account of what had just been specified; to wit, that they did not glorify him as God, that they were unthankful, that they became polytheists and idolaters. In the previous verses he had stated their speculative belief. He now proceeds to show its practical influences on their conduct. Vile affections. Disgraceful passions or desires. That is, to those which are immediately specified. The great object of the apostle here, it will be remembered, is to shew the state of the heathen world, and to prove that they had need of some other way of justification than the law of nature. For this purpose, it was necessary for him to enter into a detail of their sins. The sins which he proceeds to specify are the most indelicate, vile, and degrading which can be charged on man. But this is not the fault of the apostle. If they existed, it was necessary for him to charge them on the pagan world. His argument would not be complete without it. The shame is not in specifying them, but in their existence; not in the apostle, but in those who practised them, and imposed on him the necessity of accusing them of these enormous offences. It may be further remarked, that the mere fact of his charging them with these sins is strong presumptive proof of their heing practised. If they did not exist,

27 And likwise also the men, leaving the natural use of the women, burned in their lust one

it would be easy for them to deny it, and put him to the proof of it. No man would venture charges like these without evidence; and the presumption is, that these things were known and practised without shame. But this is not all. There is still abundant proof on record in the writings of the heathen themselves, that these crimes were known and extensively practised.

For even their women, &c. Evidence of the shameful and disgraceful fact here charged on the women is abundant in the Greek and Roman writers. Proof may be seen, which it would not be proper to specify, in the lexicons, under the words Teißas,

for, and ragíorns. See also Seneca, epis. 95. Martial, epis. i. 90. Tholuck on the State of the heathen World, in the Biblical Repository vol. ii. Lucian, Dial. Meretric. v. and Tertullian de Pallio.

27. And likewise the men, &c. The sin which is here specified is that which was the shameful sin of Sodom, and which from that has been called sodomy. It would scarcely be credible that man had been guilty of a crime so base and so degrading, unless there was ample and full testimony to it. Perhaps there is no sin which so deeply shows the depravity of man as this; none which would so much induce one "to hang his head, and blush to think himself a man." And yet the evidence that the apostle did not bring a railing accusation against the heathen world; that he did not advance a charge which was unfounded, is too painfully clear. It has been indeed a matter of controversy whether pæderastry, or the love of boys, among the ancients was not a pure and harmless love, but the evidence is against it. (See this discussed in Dr. Leland's Advantage and Neces

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