Idolatry

R. Beacon.

1883 201 Man is religious by nature, and the only creature of all that lives upon the earth that was originally created with sentiments and faculties needed for religion, that is, a creature capable of apprehending a Supreme Being, and with a feeling or sentiment of veneration for Him. Man has many faculties in common with the animal creation, as seeing, hearing, and others wherein the lower animal excels man. In the mental faculties the attempt to compare the brute with man is idle. The most sagacious animal is separated from man by an impassible gulf. Scripture declares this difference, and also that to know the spirit of the beast that goeth downward is as much beyond the reach of man as to know the spirit of man that goeth upward. What we do learn from Ecc. iii. 21 is that the spirit of man is immortal, and comparing it with Ecc. xii. 7, that it is capable of worshipping God. Man was formed to be such. All creation is to the praise of the Creator, but man's praise is the homage of his will. But this capacity to offer intelligent praise is necessarily accompanied by responsibility; and we know that in the case of the first man his sense of responsibility was not a mere vague impression, but was made tangible to his mind by the prohibition of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil: a commandment with the penalty of death attached.

This one test was given, and by it is proof of man's capacity to apprehend God, i.e., One to whom he owed obedience, but also his inability to abide in innocency. The tree was the visible means of paying homage to God, the witness of his subjection to the authority of his Maker. Obedience would secure to him all the blessings of Eden, it was the link which bound him to God. That link is the obedience of the will. Being disobedient, he lost his status before God, lost his happiness and was turned out of the garden. The original link was broken, it could never be reformed. If man was ever to be again in relationship with God, it must be on entirely new ground. Into that garden he could never re-enter. It was a garden of delights for innocence alone. And guilt once incurred makes a return to it impossible. There may be forgiveness, there may be purgation from guilt — and blessed be God both are of grace — but the fact of guilt in the past is as true as the fact of forgiveness. God has provided a new garden where the guilty may be restored to more than the pleasures of Eden. That new garden is anticipated by faith, and there is found forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christians.

Disobedience and expulsion from Eden did not bring man down to the evil of the irresponsible creature; God had breathed into him the breath of life. This breath of life is not an emanation of the Deity, as some phrase it, meaning thereby that man is a part of God, which not only denies the personality of God but leaves no room even for the idea of sin. For if man be a part of God, all that he does must be the doing of God, and all that he is must be the expression of God. Therefore since all is "God," sin is impossible, or God is contrary to Himself. This is blasphemy. There is no form of infidelity so absurd as this; for even Atheism does not make the deeds of sinners to be the acts of God which must be if the soul be a part of the Deity. This is the germ of Pantheism. The breath of life is not a partaking of the nature of God, but the gift of immortality; sin did not destroy this gift. Man was still as he was before, namely, immortal as to his soul, religious as to his nature. It is this religiousness of nature which makes his fall to be his ruin.

The consciousness, not acquired but innate, of a Power above himself who in some measure influences if not absolutely controls his condition and shapes his destiny, together with a somewhat vague idea of his accountability, which is only the complement of immortality, are doubtless in man the springs of idolatry. That is, the faculties with which the Creator endowed man that he might be a worshipper of God, make him through the fall an idolater. When was idolatry developed? Not before the flood. Some think that a comparison of Gen. vi. 5 with Rom i. 23 gives ground to believe that idolatry, as we now accept the term, existed before the flood. But the silence of Scripture as to idolatry, and its express statement that violence and corruption at that time filled the whole earth does not afford solid ground for that opinion. It is not that nature was less fallen then, but it is evidence of the kind of slavery in which Satan held the antediluvian race. In a thraldom which needed not false gods to rivet their chains, they were led on by Satan to the objects which nature presented, things to be seen and handled, not to deify them but to make them subservient to themselves and for their gratification. Satan in the garden said "Ye shall be as gods," and man was truly led on by him to the possession of power over the material things around him. We find among the antediluvians the cultivation of those arts which are said to ameliorate the condition of man. They builded cities, were artificers in brass and iron, and learned to handle the harp and organ. Modern civilization is gauged by progress in these and their cognate subjects. We can scarcely suppose that the city built by Cain was a mere assemblage of rude huts. And it is certain that some scientific knowledge was necessary to produce brass [? copper] and iron from the ore, and mechanical skill to be artificers. See the fine arts too, for the harp and the organ seldom stand alone in a community. Proficiency in all is surely not to be looked for in the same individual; but in cities where one of the fine arts flourishes, there also will be found men who excel in others. Among the antediluvians was the genius that invented instruments of music, as well as the knowledge that dug in the earth for ore, and planned a city. And in the origination, the discovery or invention, of these and other things, the men before the flood had as much intelligence and material wisdom as any after the flood. There is not the slightest reason to infer that the antediluvian organ was rude and ill made as compared with the modern instrument of the same name. If any inference can be made from their circumstances, it might be shown without any strain that there is sufficient ground for saying that their instruments might be superior to those we know spite of modern improvement, and that those who lived before the flood excelled in all that which the world has ever boasted since. There were giants in those days. Is that a mere reference to physical strength and immense form? Is it not quite as much and perhaps specially to mental and intellectual greatness? Giant-intellect is no uncommon expression now. But the Bible calls attention to the rapid and immense progress of the antediluvian race in the arts of civilization. "There were giants in the earth in those days," and among the inventors were Jubal and Tubal-cain long before.

But their advance in those things that herald civilization, or follow in its wake, did not prevent the earth being filled with violence and corruption; and putting their evil side by side with their knowledge, what a meaning is found in Ecc. vii. 29 "God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions;" that is, the things that now make this world pleasant to man, which refine his manners, which extend his power over nature, are not incompatible with the reign of sin and death. No doubt God has overruled the inventions and discoveries familiar to us to meet the need of man; He has permitted human knowledge and power to increase wonderfully, and He is wise and good in permitting it. But we do not forget that man was a sinner when he discovered and invented.

It is not improbable that all the knowledge of the antediluvians perished with them in the flood, unless we can suppose that Noah and his sons had acquired the whole Encyclopedia and so carried it on to the next generation. But if so, why did nine centuries elapse before we read of instruments of music when Miriam and the women of Israel took timbrels to sing unto Jehovah? It is far more probable — all previous knowledge lost — that this length of time was clue to the fact of man having to begin the world's history over again. His life was reduced to a tithe of what it had been, with less energy, and less skill, either acquired by use or imparted by supernatural agency; he neither multiplied so fast nor subdued the earth so rapidly. And it may be that post-diluvians have only partially re-discovered and re-invented what had been lost in the flood.

This was a loss which man could to some extent remedy; but there was a loss which no effort of his could supply, the true knowledge of God. Man did not like to retain the knowledge of God; therefore he was given up to the evil resulting from his ignorance. Before the flood there was no direct interposition. God had His witnesses, but confined to the thin line of Abel, Enoch, and Noah which reached to the deluge. Their faith and righteousness was the sole testimony, and there being no public revelation (if we may so say), the power of Satan was not seen in denying it, or opposing it by idolatry. The word in Gen. iv. 26, "Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord," does not necessarily mean that they were righteous; it may simply mean that the idea of God was not wholly lost. For Adam was yet alive. But after that judgment the earth being overflowed with water perished; which would not fail to impress the next generation with the power of God. The religious element of man's nature was developed, and being ignorant of God he became the dupe of Satan, and a worshipper of idols. And idolatry soon became universal.

To stem its evil and to recall to the true knowledge of Himself, God separated Abram from his kindred and his country. He was called out from idolatry. His family in common with other families of the country were idolaters. His separation from the family did not separate the family from idolatry, for we find it with Laban long after.

The knowledge of God being lost, man turned to the resources of his own mind to fill the void. It was soon filled with an object that never attracted love, though it raised fear. The homage paid was the price for averting its wrath. In fact the object took its character from that of its votaries. The debased Egyptian adored an ox, reptiles, leeks; the cruel Canaanite, and the Israelite after him, burnt his children in honour of Moloch; the sensual Greek and Roman gave qualities to their gods unfit to name. Going farther East we find idolatry perhaps less cruel and equally sensual, but their idols horrid and monstrous in form.

There is, however many the differences arising from climate, country and character, one feature found in all the forms of idolatry: all contain the idea of propitiation whether by fruits of the earth, or by blood of animals, or human sacrifices. The god must be appeased. As both the idol and the homage given are products of fallen nature, which is both sinful and cruel, no marvel if the offering of human blood was reckoned the most acceptable. But whatever the form or the victim, propitiation implies a feeling, and a previous idea, however ill defined, of having become obnoxious to the wrath of the idol. Does not this show that a sense of sin — doubtless very vague — and therefore of dread is innate? And seeing this universal dread of wrath, what so likely, or so calculated, to produce it as the traditional accounts of the deluge, of which in dim and misty lines every nation has the record? For let Atheists deny God as they may, the feeling of being obnoxious to His wrath is found more or less in all, and the worldwide history of idolatry gives evidence of it. Nor are instances wanting of defiant infidels confessing it in moments of fear. Conscience may be lulled for a time, but, when not seared as with a hot iron, sometimes speaks in words of utter despair.

Man must have his god, otherwise he would not be man. Nor can the object of homage be always a mere abstraction — as Brahm in India. That abstraction of eternal sleep developed itself into the triad of Brahma, Kishnu, and Siva (a parody upon the revelation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and these soon had their representatives in unnatural forms. From the mental image formed in a corrupt mind it is but a short step to the golden or wooden idol in the temple. Every shape and form had its prototype in the imagination, which to the philosopher was supplemented by the material things of nature; but to the vulgar, surrounding objects were the basis upon which the superstructure of idolatry rested. Through the senses their imagination was fed by the things seen and felt; and though these be not the sole source of idolatry, they greatly modify its form and multiplied its gods. For the mountain and the valley, the river, the grove, the heavens above and the waters beneath had their divinities, and everywhere that which in nature most impressed man soon took rank as a god. Nor let us forget the greatest factor which produced this confused mass of superstition and credulity. Not only did man not like to retain the know ledge of God and thus become the dupe of his senses, but over all was the delusive power of Satan who held man in captivity through his fear and lusts. The loss of the knowledge of the true God, to a creature endowed with religious faculties, must result in subjective idolizing. Satan, the God of this world, presented himself in a tangible form and made it objective.

1883 218 The religions element in man's nature was not eradicated by sin, but while every faculty of his mind and every instinct of his nature is debased and perverted, man's complete ruin and his greatest guilt are seen in the degradation of those same faculties originally given as the means for worshipping God. The endowments which placed him above all other creatures now sink him beneath them.

After the flood idolatry spread rapidly. For there was a void in man's breast which nothing that he had in common with the lower animals could meet. It was a religious want, and anything that pretended to satisfy it was adopted. Religious practices make one half the history of mankind. The ancient records as given by man are so full of fable that we turn at once to the Bible, where alone we get truth. Not that we shall find there a detailed history of idolatry as is given of faith, but facts here and there which prove its dominancy and universal spread.

The first mention of idolatry is with Laban, whose images Rachel had stolen. That they were objects of worship is plain from his words "wherefore hast thou stolen my gods?" Nor was Jacob's household free from them till but a short time before the death of Rachel. Evidently Laban and his family were idolaters. But it also appears that they had some superstitious knowledge of God — no doubt by tradition. There was a mingling of what they had received from earlier times with the image-worship growing around them. And in such a case even to pay homage to the true God is only superstition. The name of God was not unknown, and the inhabitants of Mesopotamia pretended to revere it, but they joined idols with it. We might ask whether they made a difference in the degree of homage given to Him who was to them "the unknown God," and homage paid to idols? Was there such distinction practised then as we find now expressed by the words latreia and dulia? a distinction winch where it is conceived only deceives the id dater of the present day with the thought that he is a christian. For as we see that one feature of ancient idolatry was not the denial of the name of God, but joining it with idols, so the "dulia," of the present day is joining virgin and saints, yea, preferring them, to Christ. It is idolatry.

The next fact is in connection with Egypt, and we find an organised system and that the inhabitants had made some advance in national life. Idolatry had become a state religion. Egypt was a kingdom when Abram was leading a pastoral life, and the title of Pharaoh was given to their kings as afterwards that of Caesar was given to the Roman Emperors; and we may reasonably infer that some progress was made both in political and religious cultivation. And later on Egypt is found in commercial relation with other people. Merchants from Gilead, Ishmaelites, were going thither for trading purposes when they bought Joseph to sell there as a slave. There was a market for spicery, balm, and myrrh; and their readiness to purchase Joseph seems to say that he was not the first youth carried thither and sold into slavery. A slave market as well as one for spicery was held in Egypt. But the kingdom was not then so compact as when through the administration of Joseph the Egyptians were no longer proprietors of the soil, but mere tenants "in capite" and servants of the king, paying a fifth of the produce of the land as tribute to him. But if the individual lost his independence, the nation as a body politic gained power. Authority was centralised, one mind and one will were supreme. There could be no clashing of divergent opinions in cabinet councils, for the ministers had only to carry out the monarch's behests.

When the king is wise and good, no form of government is more conducive to national prosperity, and individual happiness. And when the Lord Jesus takes the kingdom of this world, it will be seen in infinite perfection. For it is God's purpose to give peace to the world by One Man, the Man of His right hand. The dream of this age is of universal peace through the predominancy of the popular element; its motto is Vox populi vox Dei. It would be nearer the truth to say Vox populi vox diaboli. But when God's King is seated on His own throne, it will be divinely and blessedly true to say. Vox Regis vox Dei. But the world must wait for His reign.

No doubt idolatry was as prevalent before the king's authority established it as afterwards. But it is only authority that can organise it, and form it into a system. And thus it was when Joseph was in Egypt; for the priesthood were a separate class, and Potipherah had the position of chief among them, his name bearing the signification of prince. And there were also magicians and wise men whom Pharaoh called to interpret his dreams. These are a class of men always found among idolaters. The cunning magician is the complement of the common idolater. Where the latter is, there will be found the "wise" man who fattens upon the ignorance of the common crowd. But superstition does not prevent secular order. Indeed in a kingdom which is not a mere aggregation of savages, an organised system of religion, and of internal police regulations is always found. Potiphar was apparently chief in secular matters as Potipherah in the religious. There were other official dignities, though not so high in rank, as the chief butler and the chief baker. And so we are not surprised to find wealth and luxury where such as these exist. Joseph had his silver cup, and his chariot before which runners were to shout, "Bow the knee." These are sure evidences of material progress, and a measure of refinement. But there is with it, or had been up to the time of Joseph's advent to power, a corresponding advance in idolatry. And this is the point before us, that material prosperity aids the development of idolatry. And in Egypt, as in most countries since, the power of the State is used to enforce the religion of the State.

From Gen. xlvii. 22 we learn that the priesthood was a distinct class, and maintained by the State; that is, a revenue was established and set apart for them. But when Joseph was appointed chief administrator of the kingdom, can we conceive him enforcing idolatry by law? No. Nor on the other hand would he deprive the priests of sustenance. Thus while they received state pay their public-worship of idols would be prohibited. Joseph mounted at one step from the prison to the highest power. Only in the throne was Pharaoh greater than he. Inspired by God he had interpreted the king's double dream, and God had given to the king and to all with him the conviction that the interpretation was a prophetic intimation of coming events. Insomuch that the king said the Spirit of God was in him, and therefore the fittest man to carry out the sage counsel he had given to the king. All submitted at once to the immense influence with which the manifest wisdom of God had clothed him. What then more probable than that Joseph was able to set aside the public observance of idolatry, and to bring the Egyptians at least outwardly to acknowledge the God of Joseph? The fact of his marriage with Asenath the daughter of the prince-priest of On seems to corroborate this. For "On," a word meaning the sun, which had the highest place in their mythology, shows Potipherah to he the high priest of their system. Is it not difficult to imagine — if idolatry continued as before — that the daughter of the highest priest would be given to one who denied their gods, or Joseph could still he next to the king in authority? Possibly Potipherah and his daughter were true converts to the faith of One God, while the majority of priests restrained and forbidden to observe their idolatrous rites would be bitter enemies to Joseph and all his kindred. The priests naturally would seek to uphold the system which gave them importance and to retain their influence over the people. Indeed we find that the Egyptians did keep up a distinction between themselves and Joseph's brethren; they would not eat with them a presumptive if not a direct proof that in heart they clung to their old gods. While his influence lasted, and while the same dynasty occupied the throne, Joseph's laws and ordinances would be in force. But when about two centuries after a new king arose who knew not Joseph, a not unwilling people went back to their idolatry, and then the Israelites were subjected to a cruel tyranny. The words "new king" seem to express more than merely a successor, and point to a new dynasty. Does not Rom. ix. 17 agree with this — "Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up from amongst men:"' Possibly the whole dynasty clung to the tradition of Joseph, and were driven front the throne through the adherents of the old religion gaining the ascendancy, and a new king — first of a new dynasty — who annulled all the decrees of Joseph was placed on the throne. But all this I merely submit to the judgment of others, and do not at all affirm as certain.

The Israelites were contemned as being shepherds, an avocation which the Egyptians despised, and hence the kings who protected them were probably called the shepherd kings, and shared the same detestation, execrated as having impiously shut the doors of the temples, and thus bringing upon the nation the anger of the gods. Such was the record of an historian who, ages after, ascribed to idols the judgments that fell upon this Pharaoh. The cunning of the Devil, the blindness of man are here most plain; for the judgments of God were against the idols. Satan makes man believe the "gods" did it as a punishment for shutting up their temples. This historian (Diodorus Siculus) says that a plague broke out in Egypt through the anger of the gods, because there were many foreigners there who practised unknown rites in their worship, and in consequence the ancient religion was neglected. The Egyptians feared that they would never be able to appease their gods unless they expelled all the strangers from their country. He mentions Danaus and Cadmus, but the greater number of the expelled was under the conduct of Moses, a wise and brave man, who led his followers into Judea and there built Jerusalem and the temple, and who pretended to he inspired by Jaoh. This was written twelve centuries after the event, and through all that time this tradition which gave the glory of God to idols was received as the truth. Thus it is that Satan has always turned the truth of God into a lie. God's sore judgments were against idolatry; Satan persuades man that these judgments support it. It may be mentioned that chronologists assert that Danaus and Cadmus with their followers did arrive in Greece about the same time that Moses and the Israelites departed from Egypt.

1883 232 The next mention of idolatry is in connection with the chosen people. They made a calf, no doubt in imitation of the Egyptian Apis. The image of the calf brought to mind the accustomed rites of its worship: "the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." Israel in nature were as much idolaters as the Egyptians, and seeing their persistency in idolatry notwithstanding the ways and means of God to keep them from it, no proof is greater of man being an idolater according to the principle of fallen nature. The same thing is seen at the end when they come to the borders of Moab. They went to the sacrifices of Moab's gods. "The people did eat and bowed down to their gods." It is not only that the Gentiles were wholly given to it, but Israel, to whom is the adoption and the glory, and the covenant and the law-giving, and the services, and the promises. Even the judgments of God did not overcome their love of idols.

We have seen how the name of God was mixed up with their false worship. Laban could speak of God; Pharaoh, that the Spirit of God was in Joseph; and the idolatrous revelry of the Israelites at the foot of Sinai was called a feast to Jehovah. So in Micah's mother is another instance of this blasphemous mingling of the name of Jehovah with the image of silver she made. The silver was dedicated to Jehovah, and the manner of dedication was to make it into an idol and then worship it. The man Micah himself had a house of gods. And the ephod which God had provided for His own priest was used for idolatry. When Solomon was in the zenith of his power, his many wives led him to build high places for their gods. Indeed idolatry was the besetting sin up to the time of the Babylonish captivity. Something of it was learnt in Jacob's family; his beloved Rachel had her images; it was better learnt in Egypt; and never did the Israelites cease to be idolaters until removed from the land — perhaps not until the remnant were brought back to Jerusalem. Both Joshua and Stephen are witnesses that they were not free from it even in the journey through the wilderness. For Joshua bid them "put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt." They had brought idols from Egypt and had retained them up to that time. And Stephen lays it to their charge in words which throw further light upon God's ways with them in the wilderness. They made a calf in those days, and worshipped it. Then God turned and gave them up. That sin of the calf was the primary cause of their captivity beyond Babylon. But the point I would specially notice now is that Stephen charges them with idol worship while in the wilderness: "Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made." (See Acts vii. 41-43.)

Idolatry has one invariable — effect, it degrades the moral part or the soul. The writings of men who were idolaters, which treat of metaphysics or science, show no want of intellectual power, nor does the literature of that age fail to command the respect of the present, when morality and its obligations are not the theme. And no marvel, for true morality can only be learnt from the Bible. Ancient philosophy discourses grandly about it, but never was it observed for its own sake. For the sake of renown great things were done; for the sake of praise a man would be honest and truthful; but to love and follow whatsoever was of good report; honest, true, etc., for their own sake (and this is true morality) is ascribing to human nature a quality which it cannot possess. Nor have I introduced heart-reference to God, without which no thing is right in heart or practice. Idolatry cannot instill the love of what is pure and lovely and of good report, on the contrary it engenders and strengthens the feelings and sentiments of all that is hateful and impure. And as we know in many instances, it has crushed the strongest instincts of nature, for parents have burnt their own children in honour of an idol. At other times the devotees are seized with a sort of frenzy or madness as the priests of Baal (1 Kings xviii.), who cried out and after their manner cut themselves with knives and lancets till the blood gushed out. Nothing here surely is of good report. Nor were such things of exceptional occurrence; that and the licentiousness and drunkenness seen, perhaps not less in classic Greece and Rome than among the Canaanitish worshippers of Ashtaroth, all these form the ritual of idolatry. The voices of the prophets declare that Israel had sunk into all these depths of corruption and cruelty, that, while pretending to the knowledge of God, they equalled, if not even excelled, the heathen in the practice of all those abominations.

To keep them from this horrible wickedness God put a hedge around Israel. They were a walled vineyard, with a tower and it winepress in it. — His power to protect and his goodness to cheer; also a social hedge, for they were not to intermarry with the nations outside, all intercourse being forbidden, except as individual Gentiles should break away from their own kindred and become proselytes to the faith of one God. A moral hedge was then put round them, which had special reference and bearing upon the idols of Egypt. Such was the law and the ordinances given to them. The great need of a wall of separation, if it were possible to keep thorn from idolatry, was seen at the very moment that God was providing the means for it; for then it was, remembering Egypt's idols, they made one like it.

The first commandment struck at the root of idolatry. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." There were many "other gods" in Egypt, likenesses of things in heaven above and in the earth beneath, and in the waters under the earth, the Sun and the Moon, Osiris and Isis. Animals also were the objects of superstitious homage, as the ox, the dog, the cat, the hawk, the crocodile and others. Nor did they limit their reverence to animals, but even deified the vegetables that grew in their gardens. Leeks and onions were invoked as gods. Had we not unimpeachable evidence of such amazing debasement, it would be incredible. It is the derision of one who was himself an idolater. "You enter," says Lucian, "into a magnificent temple, every part of which glitters with gold and silver. You there look attentively for a god, and are cheated with a stork, an ape, or a cat," and he adds "a just emblem of too many palaces, the masters of which are far from being the brightest ornaments of them." The doctrine of the Metempsychosis — which is said to have originated with the Egyptians — was a natural outcome of such a system of idolatry. For the soul to pass into the body of one of the sacred animals must by them have been esteemed a great honour. Modern apologists of idolatry (for what else can they be?) have said that worship was not paid to the animals, but to the gods of whom they were the symbols. So exactly said the philosophic heathen of old. But the vulgar saw only the animal, and though the philosopher might despise, he had to hide his contempt. Paul at Ephesus was in danger of his life because by his preaching many were turned away from the worship of Diana and from the image which fell down from Jupiter. The intellectual at Ephesus might think of "Diana," but the common people only saw the "image" which they were told fell down from heaven. The rude block or sculptured stone, the little images that Rachel hid in the camel's furniture, or the great image of gold in the plain of Dura, even the lowest animal, or the common leek filled the eye of the ignorant masses, and nothing beyond.

Another commandment was, "Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain." To take His name in vain is not merely uttering it in vulgar oaths, but what is equally, if not more offensive to God, the associating it with idols. This was done in Egypt. One or more of the Divine attributes was applied to the sun, to the moon, and to each of their idols. Nay, the incommunicable name of self-existence was found, as Plutarch records, as an inscription in one of their temples. "I am all that has been, is, and ever shall be." Where did the Egyptians get the idea of self-existence? There was evidence of the Creator's eternal power and Godhead in the things that He had made; but man lost sight of Him, and fixed his eye upon the creature, and looking only there ignored its evidence. And his mind, outside the testimony of creation, was incapable of conceiving it. Where else could the Egyptians have had this absolute, and to man incomprehensible, yet necessary expression of the One Supreme Being, than from Moses, who said "I am" had sent him? What more likely than when the Egyptian priests had witnessed the power of "I am" by the hand of Moses they transferred that name to their god? Is not this the most offensive feature in idolatry, the giving the glory of God to another, and His praise to graven images? (See Isa. xlii. 8). But this gives evidence that whatever notion the heathen had of One God, it came first from a source opposed to idolatry. Afterwards fable being mixed with truth, the name of the Absolute was given to idols, and the truth which condemns the worship of idols was used to maintain it. No deeper dishonour can be to the Creator God.

1883 242 Again, "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work." The Egyptians dedicated each day of the week to one of their gods. Processions and obscene mirth characterised the homage paid to them. Jehovah commanded the Israelites to keep holy the Sabbath day, and the divine reason for the consecration of this day is that God after the six days' work of creation rested on the seventh day. After the work of six days the command was imperative to rest on the seventh. It is not a bare permission but a command, and in effect the prohibition of idolatrous feasts. Working six days and resting the seventh cut off all opportunity for the riotous feasts of idolatry, and the special guard of the law against it is plain. Moreover we see that idolatry interferes with God's arrangements for the social order of everyday life. Among the heathen, starting from Egypt every day of the week was consecrated to some idol. The same signification of name for each of the seven days is found in the East, in the barbarous North, and in Rome when it was the great centre of civilization and of the world's power. The same names used by Pagans are retained by Christendom — names in honour of some god, and a proof how widespread that form and aspect is, that had its development if not its origin in idolatrous Egypt. In our own land the Quakers made a vain attempt against these pagan names by adopting the terms, First day, Second day, etc.; but they were too deeply implanted to be uprooted by such an isolated body. What is in a name? Nothing per se. But the fact of identity of names proves that the stream of idolatry which issued from Egypt has washed the shores of other countries in Asia and in Europe.

When the Lord Jesus was here on the earth He condensed the whole law into two commandments. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Matt. xxii). If the first and great commandment strikes at the root of idolatry, the second no less denounces the fruits of it. The sins forbidden in the second table of the law are the fruits of the flesh truly, but they flow direct from idolatry; and when the Lord Jesus said "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," He summed up in a word the whole second table of the law. Idolatry forbids none, permits all, sanctions some; for the feasts observed in praise of their idols were the occasions for excess of riot, and debauchery was the incense offered to them. The morality of idolaters is on a par with their worship. Their moral sense was governed by superstition; this led them to vice that allowed no check.

Honour to parents is the first thing in the second table. The Egyptians, like the Spartans afterwards, paid respect to old age; but this might be paid where there was no honour rendered to parents such as the law enjoined, and of which obedience is the essence. Whether this commandment was commonly observed by the youth of Egypt, or not, we know that filial obedience forms no part of the code of idolatry, nor does it forbid anything that the law of God forbids. On the contrary the two next prohibitions are sanctioned. The Egyptians annually sacrificed a girl, and some affirm a boy and a girl to the Nile. In cities called Typhonian at certain seasons men were immolated. Theft and false witness were venial. Not the perpetration of the crime, but the discovery of it was considered shameful.

Such was the condition into which idolatry plunged mankind. Nor is this the worst aspect of it. It was far worse, and so displayed in Israel and Judah that the images of the gods whose worship sanctioned such abominations were placed in the temple of Jehovah. It was lowering the true God to the level of their idols. As with the Gentile so with the Israelite, their gods were not only the deifying the worst passions of man, but the blinded and perverse mind fastened upon the objects around it, and clothed them with supernatural power. All that was grand or fearful, all that inspired awe or admiration, was deemed the dwelling-place of a god. Day and night, the winds, the sea were presided over by an imaginary deity. A god was found on the mountain top, and in the gloomy cavern. The smiling cornfield and the dark recesses of the forest, rivers, fountains, each had its tutelary divinity. Gradually, near the sacred places, temples were raised, and a symbol of the god placed therein; then homage paid to it until at last even the imaginary deity had to give place to the material idol. If amid all this darkness there was with some the faintest idea of a sole Power or Being above all, as with the Athenians (Acts xvii.), it was only that he was too high and too great to be concerned with man. A god unknown must have his shrine; but the true God was unknown, for He is so much concerned with man that in His love He gave His only-begotten Son to die for him, that believing he might not perish but lave everlasting life.

If we turn for a moment to secular writers we find that this notion of an otiose god largely obtained in the East, in India. Among the Hindus, their "Supreme" was so wrapped up in his own perfections as to commit the charge of this world to inferior deities, and therefore in his relation to men and things above in eternal sleep. This was their "Brahm" who in his primary state is a being without qualities or attributes, without intellect, without consciousness, without intelligence! A being without these is an impossibility. The Supreme is, The absolute NOTHING!! But Brahm awakes to consciousness, (how such a nonentity could is a marvel), and then he becomes omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and exclaims "I am!!!" And this is where the vaunted intellect of man leads us when it prys into the regions above mere matter. Western philosophy does not travel by the same route, but its last stage is not less absurd. For if the Hindu, in his mythological journey back to the Original Cause of all, arrives at eternal sleep; confusion, or chaos, with the eternity of matter is the Ultima Thule of the Pagan west, where was found no other solution of the problem of good and evil as seen in the present condition of creation, than that each is eternal and was ever in conflict.

Historians say that idolatry as a system was carried from Egypt to India after the age of Joseph, or about the year B.C. 1635, or a little later. That afterwards the same organised system spread from the north east of Asia to the north west of Europe, and prevailed throughout this region before B.C. 542. The Hindu doctrine of Brahm seems to confirm this. God's assertion of Himself as "I am" could never have been conceived by fallen man, and it must have been carried to India from the land where that name was first declared. Those who have examined Hindu mythology assert that its fundamental doctrine is one God. (What kind of God it is we have just seen). If so, then there is the fact of God's revelation of Himself as the One God, to the Gentile world; the responsibility of the idolater in presence of this revelation, and the perversion of this truth by man, under the power of Satan. Divergent in detail and development as this system became in different countries, its identity as to source is also seen in that time is reckoned by weeks and days, and that the days of the week are consecrated to the same or similar gods.*

[*The days of the week are thus known see Ency. Metro. Vol. ix. Intro.) in the Indian, Roman, and North Europe or Scandinavian languages, and I add the corresponding English names.
Andity War — Dies Solis, the Sun's day — Sunday.
Soma War — Dies Lunae, the Moon's day — Monday.
Mungela War — Martis dies, Thisco's day — Tuesday.
Boodha War — Mercurii dies, Woden's day — Wednesday
Vrihaspat War — Iovis dies, Thor's day — Thursday
Shukra War — Veneris dies, Frea's day — Friday
Themisker War — Saturni dies, Seater's day — Saturday

History of Idolatry.

1883 258 There are also other traces of Egyptian idolatry. The Ganges in India was accounted sacred as the Nile in Egypt, the sun in both countries, in India a cow, reminding one of Apis. But the worship of cats and dogs, of leeks and onions, is not found in India. There idolatry took a somewhat different direction. Symbols of their gods were not sought for among the brutes, or in their kitchen gardens. They multiplied their gods, but as a rule, all were in the shape of men and women, sometimes with a monstrous and unnatural addition or change when a particular attribute or quality was to be made prominent; as when the head of an elephant was given to a human body to express prudence and sagacity, also four arms to show power. As an expression of an abstract idea, it is that of an untutored and perhaps childish mind; but from an aesthetic point the Hindu idol is disgusting and repulsive.

The ancient form of Hinduism differs from its present, winch is known under the name of Brahman-ism. But a mere glance at the course of idolatry after its authoritative establishment and organization in Egypt does not require more that the notice of the transition from the pantheistic aspect of the ancient Hindu mythology to the fundamental idea of one god, as Brahm, with polytheistic associations. There is another idolatrous system, that of Buddha. This is said to be less gross and barbarous than Brahmanism. While Brahm is a myth, Buddha may have been a real personage who, disgusted with the cruelties practised by the Brahmans, formed a sect of his own. But the Buddhists were driven out of India and settled principally in Ceylon. Some went to China, others to Tartary, and possibly even to Scandinavia. The Brahmans on the contrary would not go beyond the limits of India, their sacred region. In their emigration the Buddhists carried images of Buddha into these countries whither they went, and worshipped him as supreme, but mixed with his worship some of the Brahminical or Egyptian mythology. Thus the stream of that system of idolatry which had its beginning in Egypt has flowed thence over the greater part of the East and a modification of it sweeping back overflowed all Europe. And this must have happened between the years B.C. 1635 and B.C. 542, for at the later date the Buddhists had been driven out of India.

Among the Greeks and Romans the fabulous deities were not living animals, as are found with the Egyptians, nor images of unnatural shapes and forms as in India, though not quite free from the latter (as Pan with the feet of a goat), but by some of them certain animals, if not deified, were considered sacred to a particular deity, (as the peacock to Juno). With these masters of the world idolatry seems divested of its bestial form, and unaccompanied with the more bloody rites observed in the North. By them idolatry was made attractive, clothed in forms of beauty and voluptuousness. Yet Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury are but different names for the Scandinavian Thor, Irea and Woden, and may be traced to the Egyptian Osiris and Isis.

But if there be room for question as to the practical identity of the idols of one country with those of another, one thing is certain that the same superstition, the same cruelty, lurks in all, that the particular character of the development of idolatry is in great measure due to the habits and education of the people of each country, and that, whatever the development, man is proved in all to be stupid, vile, and lost.

1883 275 In other continents, Africa and America, where Egyptian ideas may not be traced, the same tendencies to bloody rites and senseless ceremonies are seen. If in some places corruption be the prevailing feature, cruelty is no less its character in other places. Idolatry is also a degrading superstition, it makes a slave of the man God ordained to have dominion. And according to Scripture it is demon-worship, and the demon's power seen in the arts of sorcery. And here is more than imagination, it is a reality. Here is seen the direct power of Satan, to whom some have given themselves as his immediate agents. Balaam and the witch of Endor are instances; also Simon of Samaria, Elymas the sorcerer, the damsel of Philippi. The wise of the present age deny that there was or could be such power. They are the modern Sadducees who deny any angel or spirit, who say that the idea of the Devil is only an engine of priestcraft. But the Bible declares the awful reality, and idolatry corroborates it.

Such is the mental condition of man. The idea of One God was not suddenly lost at the first; but, man's mind not liking it, the truth became fainter in each successive generation, and at last was completely swamped in the flood of gods many and lords many which spread its devastating waters over the whole world.

Yet notwithstanding the visible effects, and the character of idolatry, it is strange to hear men gravely asserting that, in all ages and regions, the nations of the world (however different in character and manners) have yet united in the belief of a supreme Being. That man had in the age next succeeding the deluge a faint idea of the One God is true; but that in all ages and regions a supreme being was acknowledged is an assertion which lacks not boldness but proof. A "Supreme Being" is more than being superior to other gods. It means no other god beside the One God. Idolaters always had gods. A writer of the past age, speaking of the heathen, says that in their public and private affairs "the Divinity is invoked." And again, "In every people we discover a reverence and awe of the Divinity." That the pagan betrayed a servile and superstitious fear both in public and private, and under its influence performed rites to his idol, is true.

But in "public," as is known, each nation had its own god; even the cities of the same nation did not give pre-eminence to the same divinity; and as to the "private affairs" all the respectable families had each their own lares et penates. What is the meaning of invoking the Divinity, when the rites observed were a sort of entreaty that the god would not maliciously interfere with them rather than seeking his aid? And why the Divinity, as if there was but one object before the idolatrous world? The same writer (Rollin; see Anc. Hist. Pre.) speaks of the treatment those received who depraved by false philosophy rose up against this "doctrine." Were there any ever found who spoke against the "Divinity" as the One Supreme? There were some who despised the folly of idol-worship, and were called atheists by the idol-mongers. Was it false philosophy to speak against the abominations which could only shock the feelings of a moral pagan (if such could be found), and would lead the intellectual away from the senseless worship? But to speak of idolatry as adoration of the "Divinity" is a hiding of the sin of "many gods" if not an apology for it.

But the writer is happily inconsistent with himself; for, in spite of the universal adoration in all ages and regions of the Supreme Being, he deplores the fact of man's incapability of persisting in the purity and simplicity of this first principle, that amid the general depravity only a few faint rays, small sparks of light, remain unextinguished. This same lament would have been equally in place had it been over the time of Cicero (or indeed of any time before or since) who is cited as inculcating the existence of a Supreme Being, and the homage due to Him. The words of the great Pagan are "Sit igitur hoc a principio persuasum civibus, dominos esse omnium rerum ac moderatores deos, eaque geruntur eorum geri judicio ac numine." (De Legg. II. vii.) Do "dominos" and "deos" simply mean a Supreme Being, a "Divinity"? Do they not rather show that Cicero advocates idolatry for the citizens in general, though he himself might despise it?

It is a proof how far the mind of man is alienated from God that even in Christendom, where His word is printed and available for all, and in the hands of those who profess and call themselves Christians, there is more contempt of the folly of idolatry than condemnation of its sin. And why in these "christian countries" is it contemned, if not through the light of the Word so generally neglected, and by some despised as of no more authority than cunningly devised fables? Christendom is in the condition of one who knew the Lord's will and did it not; its judgment will be "many stripes."

But there is a worse evil than idolatry and far more guilty; which is not merely a sin inevitably resulting from fallen man's mental constitution, but which implies and necessitates a Revelation from God: that worse sin is infidelity. Revelation was not necessary to make man an idolater; it was necessary to make him an infidel. In its widest meaning as designating those who have no faith, all idolaters in whatever condition of ignorance are infidels. But if we confine the word to its common acceptation, it is evident that a Revelation must be given before it can be rejected. And as the rejection of known truth is of earlier date than idolatry, no process or lapse of time was needed for its development. Its first form was the denial of God's word; as such it sprang fully equipped from the head of the first sinner. God said "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The Serpent said "Ye shall not surely die." God's word was disbelieved, and Eve became the infidel. Pharaoh was an infidel; when the word of "I am" came to him, he said "Who is Jehovah that I should obey His voice." And Israel as having the oracles and the testimony of God were as much infidels as idolaters. As idolaters they clung to Egypt's idols, as infidels they said Egypt was a better place than Canaan. And if we compare these two grand engines of Satanic craft, in idolatry the sentiments (i.e. fear, dread, desire, awe, admiration) are most in exercise, if not solely; in infidelity the passions have but little play. It is human reason, the intellect, though even the intellect is swayed by the heart, which is enmity against God. Infidelity was usually found rather with the educated than with the ignorant; of late years even the lowest classes in the social scale, and the most uncultured, are swelling its ranks. And as education — the present panacea for all moral evil! — spreads, so infidelity increases. For if education expands the mind and strengthens its power, the increase of infidelity is inevitable. For, the mind being enmity to God, its expansion is the expansion of hatred, and the strengthening of its powers to spread its own evil. And the means of education which the wisdom of this world has adopted, and the craft of Satan has caused to be used, as to philosophy taught, is underlaid with scepticism; more subtle in some than in others, but therefore the more dangerous. The books of past ages and professors of the present age are for the most part tainted with infidelity, and some of them very deeply. It is the result of man's mind trying to measure the Revelation of God by the light of reason. Reason was never given to discuss the command of its Creator, never to decide whether obedience was due to God, or whether his Word is credible. Revelation is its own evidence, its own authority. And every one that has read a page of it has more or less, at least once in his life, felt the power and authority of it. Conscience in a measure responds to the truth; but conscience may be silenced, and the general result is that man without conscience falls into the depths of corruption or wanders in the darkness of his own reason, i.e. infidelity. The legitimate sphere of reason is earthly and temporal things. Now that it is darkened, to attempt to subject the Word of God to its authority is the greatest proof of its incapacity for the office. And further we have but to remember that the Word of God is the message of His love to find equal proof of its antagonism to God.

Infidelity is a term of wide range; its professors are subdivided into many schools, from the man who pretends to believe the Bible but denies its plenary inspiration, down to the depths of the fool who in his heart says "No God." It is essentially negative but with a varying phase, due to the manners of the people and the age of the country where it appears. Atheism denies the being of God. Some question whether any have really arrived at that stage of unbelief. Yet in just retribution a man who has for years openly asserted "No God" may be given up to believe his own lie. The Pantheist imagines God to be in every thing, a sort of essence diffused through all creation, and everything a part of God. That is, he denies the personality of God. Some deny providential arrangement and government, their favorite theme and word is "nature." To such moral evil is an impossibility; and "physical," as applied to evil, a misnomer. For that to which the expression is given is (as they say) nature's means for arriving at perfection. The deist recognises the existence and in a measure the government of God, both which he pretends to know by the light of reason alone. He wilfully ignores the condition and the results of reason when man had no Revelation from God; he derides the thought that his reason is indebted to the light of the Bible for its emancipation from the many gods of Paganism. Like the fabled Prometheus he has stolen heavenly fire and employed it against the Book whence he had it. For him the Bible, however much he may admire its precepts, has no more authority than the Koran or the mythologies of paganism. To him sin is not the effect of enmity against God, but errors of judgment or perhaps the mistakes of nature. It is for him to account for the present condition of man and the earth he inhabits; for if he deny sin as that which brought death into the world, the god of his imagination cannot be the God who is Love, the God of the Bible.

1883 290 At the present day, at least in this country, all who reject Revelation seem to be uniting under the name of Secularist. Under that name are found those who assail the Being, the Attributes, the Personality and the Providence of God, and who endeavour by philosophy — falsely so called — to overthrow the christian's faith in the genuineness, authenticity, inspiration, and exclusive authority of the Word of God. Could they succeed, all belief of a future judgment, and consequently the immortality of the soul, would be derided as an idle dream, and the grossest materialism would become the universal creed. And what do these Secularists propose as a substitute for the Bible? They pretend that sufficient guarantee for morality is found in nature and in human intelligence. What their idea of morality may be is difficult to say; but according to their highest definition, can it fill the craving void felt by every soul at one time or the other? A craving after the unseen and the unknown? A craving which compels the idolater to worship the image his hands have made, and leads the infidel to idolize the god of his imagination, i.e. his reason, himself?

Positivism is another name for the latest phase of infidelity, differing but little if at all from Secularism. It is a combination of all shades. It is materialistic; for the man whose name is identified with this system denied all that is supernatural — by which he meant theological. He put aside all that is metaphysical; i.e. he allowed nothing but mere matter, the relation, the succession, the likeness which one thing bears to another. This system teaches that human perfection is to discard all reference to a Divine cause, and to resolve everything to nature and to mechanical laws. This will be the "universal religion" which will supersede all other creeds and notions; the one doctrine sufficiently comprehensive to answer all questions, and sufficiently positive to convince all men. This "Religion" has no starting-point save what it calls the active, affectionate and intelligent tendencies of human nature. In a word "Collective Humanity" is God! Are there in human nature no other tendencies but those of love and intelligence? Are not the opposite rather the tendencies which so prevail that love and intelligence as characterising mankind are only names, truly of things conceivable, but little beyond? Hatred and therefore war, ignorance and therefore superstition, mark the annals of the world. Some few by great perseverance and incessant labour may emerge from the mass of ignorance; but who, at any period, of men stood forth as the exponent of universal affection and goodwill? Possibly a man might die for his friend; but the exceptionality of such a case proves the general rule. Let the history of mankind bear witness. And if this witness be received, when where and how is this affectionate and intelligent "Collective Humanity," the god of the Positivist, to be manifested? It certainly will be a god that had a beginning. But in fact this system denies the Being of God and is Atheistic. It denies the personality of God — for man in the aggregate is God — and therefore Pantheistic. Deism it denies as providential superstition; like Secularism it affirms the law of nature to be the sole agency at work in the world. It is infidelity in its widest meaning, in its most illogical form; and its most absurd theories shock every rational mind. Nor does it come behind any previous school of scepticism in daring impiety. At a comparatively recent meeting of Positivists in a neighbouring country it was proposed and carried nem. con. that the idea of God should be banished from the country.

All this tremendous wickedness is not in pagan but in so-called christian lands, where the truths of christianity have been more or less proclaimed. It is in christendom that the greatest expression of antagonism against God is found, the proof that the nearer the Light is brought to man the more his hatred of it appears. The reason is plain; for the Light makes manifest the darkness, and condemns it, and this the darkness resents. Revelation provokes infidelity. Idolatry is the produce of fallen nature as the oak from the acorn. Infidelity is enmity against God and His Book.

There is a kind of metaphysical infidelity which endeavours to substitute "subjective revelation," that is, consciousness of truth in the soul, for objective revelation, that is, the Bible. So that a man's own spiritual intuition and convictions are to take the place, and usurp the authority, of the word of God. This may be called "inward light," or even the name of the Spirit of God may be applied to it. But being apart from and independent of the word of God, it is only delusion. Subjective revelation, even if a reality and not a delusion, could never be the standard of truth. For if the whole word of God could be contained by any one mind and divinely understood, something more is needed to make the convictions of one authoritative for another. To accept them as authority is putting man in the place of God. But if subjective revelation was in each living man (if not in each, to some it must be objective), each one would be his own authority, his own standard of truth. And what if these "Authorities" clashed? Two things would inevitably result: first, that man would believe in himself, would worship his own convictions, would please himself, he would be his own god, and therefore an idolater, and as not believing in God, rejecting His word, would be also an infidel; the second result would be that Truth, as such, would be lost. Such a tide of conflicting notions, absurd opinions would flow over the world, that every landmark would be submerged, and the world of ideas (if we are allowed such a term) would be as the earth once was "without form and void." To talk of Revelation as being subjective so as to deny the inspiration of the Bible is only common infidelity in a deistic guise.

When the light of truth falls upon the dark mind without bringing the conscience into the presence of God, there can be but one result. The truth is opposed, and hated. And hatred of truth is the true parent of infidelity; even as idolatry is the natural fruit of the heart, when left to its own promptings. This fruit of the deceitful heart in any one of its varied forms was never condemned, and its votaries destroyed by others whose form of idolatry differed; each new deity that the ignorance and lusts of men invented was acknowledged by all, though it may be only receiving homage from the men of a particular locality. This was but natural, for if the people of the hills had a god peculiar to themselves, why should not the people of the plains have the same privilege? So the same kind of liberalism, which now accords to each man to think and form his religious creed as he likes, then allowed to each idolater to have his own god, and every idol had a niche in the common Pantheon. But when the truth was revealed from God the antagonism of man was immediately roused against it. When did the truth ever fail to evoke opposition, and make manifest the latent infidelity of the heart? Only when the Holy Spirit by His own direct power opened the heart to receive it.

Paul bears testimony to the fact of the activity of the will against the Word of God. "When the law came, sin revived." In the case he is describing the law was accompanied with the power of grace, "I died." There was a yielding to the authority of the Word, there was self-judgment. But nevertheless, there is the fact, "sin revived." The heart's dislike of God's word, be it law or gospel, is immediately manifested. Indeed the natural man is more opposed to grace than to law.

When the truth of One God was revealed through Moses, man, already an idolater, became an infidel. He would not give up his idols, and denied that there was only one God. This was the early phase of infidelity, and the Gentile world lies under the responsibility of having denied the truth of one God. The infidelity of Israel was more guilty than that of the Gentile, inasmuch as the unity of God was a special testimony to them. Israel equalled the Gentile in idolatry, but exceeded them in infidelity.

When grace and truth came by the Lord Jesus Christ a more extended front was presented to the attacks of infidelity, and the truth in Christ was assailed at every point. God manifest in the person of Christ gave opportunity for the exercise and display of intensest enmity against Him. To the denial of His eternal power and Godhead as the Creator was now added the denial and rejection of His grace and love as displayed in the advent of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Now that God is fully revealed, His present grace and long-suffering, with His future judgment, infidelity, as it were taking advantage of His forbearance, boldly asserts by many a voice that there is no God. This last stage of daring impiety when it could be openly confessed without calling forth the execration of a merely honest and moral man, has been reached in these last days of Christendom. In the last century the French encyclopaedists were the active Propagandists of atheistic philosophy, from whom as a centre it radiated throughout Europe; and now in our own land their successors unblushingly walk the streets in midday. Not many years ago the atheist was regarded as one with whom it was a disgrace to have public intercourse. Now he is tolerated, and even his entrance into the councils of government advocated. This is the age when God is openly set at nought, and His power defied. This is the age when the representatives of government (who profess and call themselves Christians) join in processions and lend their countenance to the rites of Mohammedanism and Paganism. It is vain to say it is for secular purposes; the deluded Mohammedan or Pagan will not so regard it. The infidelity of so-called Christians, and the deep dishonour to God, the heartless indifference to truth is manifest. What is the moral difference between this and the avowed atheism which seeks to banish the name and idea of God from the country? The world is maturing for Antichrist, the arena is being cleared for him who will deny both the Father and the Son. The facts of the day viewed in the light of God's words show that the time is swiftly approaching. I do not predict, but wherever we look, at home or abroad, mankind appears, more plainly as time rolls on, as "having no hope and without God in the world."

1883 307 At the beginning of the present dispensation this character of the world was not so distinctly legible. For the mercy of God in Christ was proclaimed, and it remained to be proved that the world would reject it. Public proof was soon given. He in whom was life, whose life was the light of men, was despised: His holy person was assailed when here in humiliation, but in grace, "Behold a gluttonous man and a winebibber." And more than this, the blasphemer dared to say "He hath a devil; why hear ye Him?" The Jew was in the van of the world's array against Christ. It was the person, no less than the truth, that was denied, when the priests bid the Roman guard say, "His disciples stole Him while we slept." It was the denial of His inherent power to break the bonds of death, of His Godhead; it was the denial that His shed blood was atonement for sin. Paul says, "if Christ be not risen, ye are yet in your sins." If the disciples stole His body, if He did not rise from the dead, then there is no atonement, no salvation, no mercy. The character of God is belied, His love denied, His willingness to receive sinners a mere fable. But the truth was too strong for the malice and cunning of Satan. This foundation-fact rests upon evidence — apart from divinely given faith — as irrefragable as any fact in the world's history. The mercy of God has ordered it, so that upon the lower ground of the credibility of human testimony the infidelity of man is without excuse. Afterwards truth was assailed more insidiously. Portions of the declared Word, and specially those relating to the person of our Lord, were sought to be undermined; the enemy well knowing that, if but one stone of foundation truth were removed, the whole building would inevitably and quickly collapse and fall.

Nothing is more subtle than infidelity: it penetrates every form of religious thought, every shade of opinion of which the Word is not the source. It is not confined to the bold deniers of revelation, but is found sometimes in creeds. Every creed, or confession of faith, that has not for its basis the full truth as to the person of Christ, in short, the whole Bible as given of God, is infidel in character. True believers are sometimes touched with it, through adherence to an unscriptural creed; not vitally, of course, but hurtfully; for wherever it penetrates, its baneful influence is seen in evil doctrine and evil practice.

The human mind is infidel in the abstract; but infidelity as a fact could not be till a revelation had been given. In like manner the aspect and form of infidelity will be according to the character of the truth revealed. The grace that was revealed in and by Christ made man plead for law; so that the Galatians, who had been converted from idolatry, thought it right to adopt the law as equally necessary with the gospel of grace. But the worst aspect of infidelity is in its assaults upon the person of our Lord; and this, not as seen in men unconnected with the church of God, but in those who were prominent, or who aimed at prominence, among the saints of God. We see the wretched and absurd theories of those who entirely thrust the Bible aside as a book of God. The theories — if they deserve that title — of the men who have attempted to blend the theogony of heathen philosophers with the truth of Christ, are still more absurd; and, while exceeding the wildest dream that ever came from the head of a pagan, they add insult and blasphemy.

The heresies that first troubled the church are characterised by the introduction of Eastern philosophy, not a little modified by Grecian, into the assemblies, and mingling it with the truth. In this teaching were combined two things which at first seem incompatible, but which, when fully examined, are complementary: viz., the denial of the essential Godhead of Christ, and also of His proper humanity. The Christ of God — the true Saviour of the Bible — disappeared, and, in place thereof, the wanderings of a dark but vain mind, the worthless speculations of science falsely so called. Against these heresiarchs both John and Paul wrote. The evil had begun while the apostles were yet here. Satan began immediately his attempts to hide from man (who so needs it) the knowledge, the immense fact, that He who had been here was "the true God and eternal life."

It was a strange compound — oriental philosophy and divine truth. It would seem as if the philosopher of that day sought to enlarge the range of his view by borrowing from truth, but perverting what he found, to make it fit into his own system. But he was no nearer the truth; he was a worse man; for he had heard the truth, and loved not but made merchandise of it. How much greater the guilt, and the evil consequences, of teaching as truth of God the vain speculations of men! This was done in the first ages of the church; and they who did it pretended to be the only ones who had knowledge and true understanding of the word. Hence their name — Gnostics. Under this, as a general term, very many different parties arose; but they all united in this, they denied the Son. Infidelity was the true name of their philosophy. The leading idea, that is the starting point (which is very like that of Brahminism), is "absolute unity," a something which was both spirit and matter: from this unity was evolved the whole universe of manifold beings. Matter became separate from spirit, and so in consequence the principle of evil. The spiritual beings emanating from the original monad became imperfect through contact with matter, and were held in thrall by it. Does it not occur to us that the inventor of this fable had seen the Mosaic account of Creation and of the Fall, but had so distorted the facts that the truth was lost?

1883 323 But there is more to break this thraldom and free the spiritual part of man from the domination of matter i.e. the body: fasts, vigils, total disregard of the body were enjoined as necessary. By these a man would rise to higher and successive degrees of virtue, would pass through various transformations, or metempsychoses, till he reach the final stage, the absorption of his soul into the deity. If "metempsychosis" was left out, the Gnostics taught the observance of penances and — not the mortifying of our members which are on the earth but — the depreciation of the body as a thing not to be considered for a moment; that is, they denied that the body was the temple of the Holy Ghost. This led some to harsh treatment of the body, others to the extreme of self-indulgence and corruption, because the body — matter — was so vile a thing that it might do anything, it was not worth guarding. So from the same evil root of doctrine came two opposite evils in practice. Both extremes met in denying the truth. The latter are the Nicolaitanes of Rev. ii. and Paul in Col. ii. 20-23 warns against the former. The "touch not, taste not, handle not" is but man's commandment, a pretence of wisdom, the worship of the will; and the "neglecting of the body" is only "the satisfying of the flesh."

The influence of this philosophy did not cease with the early ages of the church, it is seen in our time, it was rampant in the middle ages. For what is monachism but the continuation of the attempt to attain to a quasi-holiness by the mortification of the body?

Some may have shut themselves up in monasteries through simple ignorance, vainly imagining they were obeying the Holy Spirit's injunction in Col. iii. 5. But how many the proofs that the asceticism inculcated by some of the early sects has been only a cloak in latter times to hide the corruption practised by others!

One is ready to ask, how could such doctrines and practice be endured in the church of God? would not the least intelligent saint reject both, and abhor the men mho thus defiled the church? The epistle to Ephesus (Rev. ii.) furnishes the answer. The church had left her first love. This opened the door and paved the way for the entry of every possible abomination and dishonour to the Lord. Soon entered the disciples of Balaam, the Nicolaitanes, and Jezebel calling herself a prophetess. These not only entered but found a welcome. Never would such have found footing in the church of God, had she not left her first love. He who so loved the church as to give Himself for her, would have guarded her from all evil. But the church lost her virgin character, and just as Israel of old went after other gods, so the professing church ends in being the great harlot of Christendom.

But there is worse than corrupting the saints — the infidelity of Gnosticism (how manifestly the work of Satan sowing tares while men slept!) subjected the person of the Son to the mind of man attempting to comprehend His being, as if in defiance of the word that no man knoweth the Son but the Father. The vain intellect of men has attempted to solve that mystery, which angels contemplate with awe and wonder — God manifest in flesh. No where else is man so plainly the dupe of Satan. In the day of His humiliation the demons knew and confessed who He was. Satan, a liar from the beginning, led man into the labyrinth of his own conceptions as to the person of the Son of God. What could be the result of Satanic power working upon human ignorance, enmity against God and His Christ the sole principle in each? Just what we find in the first heresies, in which the old idolatry of heathendom supplanting the truth of Christianity makes an infidel Christendom. Henceforth the public testimony of the church as a whole was lost. Sovereign grace preserved a few witnesses.

The idolatrous character of the Gnostic infidelity may be accounted for — at least in part. For Oriental philosophy, which influenced the West, taught as a fundamental principle that the Universe was an intelligent being, of which matter was the body and God the soul. This Pantheistic notion of God (which as a form of infidelity seems anterior to the purely Atheistic form) was the prolific source from which were educed the wildest theories — so wild that even heathen mythology might be called wisdom compared to them. Mixed with the truth the amalgam is more abhorrent than Atheism. Professors of Christianity could not of course adopt the gods of Paganism, nor Brahm's development and sudden expansion into numerous deities. These monopolisers of "true knowledge" attempted a compromise. In place of gods they had "emanations" from the "Original Unity," the "monad" of Eastern philosophy. Each prominent Gnostic had his peculiar theory to which he wickedly but vainly attempted to bend the word of God. Evil as well as good was personified as emanations or "aeons" from God. Thus making God the source of evil as well as of good. Christ was an "aeon," by some accounted the highest and sent into the world to correct the mischief wrought by others. Some maintained that He was by title the Son of God, but inferior to the Father. They denied His humanity because matter was essentially evil. His body was only the appearance of matter. It follows necessarily that there was no real suffering, no real death: it was all illusion. Where are the foundations of Christianity, and of truth? What becomes of the character of God as a Just Governor? Where is the love of God in giving His Son, or the truth of the declaration of John iii. 16, if there was no reality in the cross? Without the cross all would be confusion and contradiction, the book of nature and the book of revelation alike unintelligible. The cross is the central point in the whole universe of God. It declares God's righteousness for the past or present, and is the proof of His love, upon which His highest glories hang. If the cross be an illusion, so is exaltation in millennial glory; and our glory with Christ a myth.

1883 338 But there is no part of truth which those worse than silly dreamers did not falsify, and in doing it made statements more absurd than the darkest pagan uttered. The Gnostics denied the divine authority of the New Testament, affirmed that the world was created by inferior beings, imperfect and evil in their nature, that Moses — whom some abhorred was actuated by the malignant author of this world whose object was his own glory and not the advantage of man. They denied resurrection, matter being so evil, the soul would never be reunited to it. They attributed all the calamities of the world to malevolent genii, and studied magic arts to counteract them. They manifested the superstition of idolatry with their boast of knowledge. They were infidels of the worst type. They dishonoured the written word of God more than those who utterly deny it. For even in the New Testament which they professed to receive their culpable ignorance led them to take the word, the light, the life in John i. as so many distinct eons or emanations. Would any but the blinded dupes of Satan put forth or receive such follies?

Such the condition of the church before two centuries had passed since its formation. The word errors were taught under the profession of the name of Christ, but a denial of Himself. Not a vital point of truth but was assailed and, as far as man could, undermined. And in these early heresies is the evil root of every succeeding error since known, the pregnant source of blasphemous doctrine and evil practice which have ravaged the church from that time until now.

But we are looking not at mere errors, but marking those chiefly that denied the full truth of the Person of Christ, which are not errors, but infidelity. A man may hold wrong views concerning many things in the Bible. He may be singular in his views as to the mode and subjects of baptism, as to the doctrines of election and the Lord's coming; if he be sound and scriptural as to the Person of Christ, His perfect manhood, and His perfect deity he cannot be fatally wrong upon other and lesser points. But the heretic who denies the true humanity, or essential Godhead of Christ is an infidel.

Infidelity such as this appeared in the first century and sprang from Jewish sources. It was not infidelity in the sense here used, to insist upon circumcision, and the ceremonial law; but when Cerinthus and his followers maintained that the Lord Jesus was simply the son of Joseph and Mary, that there was nothing divine about Him, or that His divinity was simply the communication of the Holy Ghost at His baptism, then appeared infidelity, fatal and the most horrible to a Christian. It is the reappearing of the old Jewish enmity which met the Lord on all sides when He was here. Though veiled under humanity, He declared himself as God, and the Son of the Father, and that He and the Father are one. The Jew quite understood this, and took up stones to stone Him saying, "thou being a man makest thyself God." The Jew in rejecting the Person of the Son is without excuse. How much greater the guilt of those who, after He had been declared the Son of God in power by resurrection of the dead, still denied His Godhead. The Gentile element however was not entirely absent during this first age. It then began to be taught that the body of Christ was not a real body. And in the second century the church was flooded with heresies arising from Eastern ideas, and containing the same blasphemy.

In the third century the Manicheans arose, a sect which held the eternity of matter, as well as denying Christ. In the beginning of this same age the Godhead was declared to be but One Person. The Son and the Holy Ghost were but modifications of the revelation of the Father. About the middle of the century Sabellius openly taught that the Word and the Holy Spirit were only functions of the Deity; that God in heaven was the Father of all; that He condescended to be born of the Virgin, and thus was the Son, the Word; and that He diffused Himself under the appearance of tongues of fire on the apostles, and thus was called the Holy Ghost. Hence though not the originator, this heresy is called after his name, the Sabellian heresy. The distinction of the Persons in the Trinity was thus denied, and the real incarnation, suffering, and death of Christ go with it. And so intimate is the connection between the truth of God and Christ, and the salvation of man, that if part of it be lost or given up, the foundation is destroyed upon which the righteousness and the grace of God can together provide a ransom for man.

1883 356 All the various heretical sects up to this time are but offshoots of Gnosticism. They caused parties within the church rather than distinct and separate communities without. The time however had now come when an open and antagonistic division cut in twain that which in the past was considered as one church. Gnosticism, was itself fundamentally a combination of Judaism and heathen philosophy, which denied the Christ of God and put a creation of its own in His place. In this all the principal Gnostic sects united, however they varied otherwise in detail. But it had to make way for a simpler and less gross but equally fatal error, Arianism.

Arius in the fourth century, as if seeking a remedy for the discordant notions floating within the arena of church profession, seems to have gathered them all under one head, discarding many of the absurdities, such as the "emanations," the "genii," and similar notions held by Gnostics in common with pagans, but retaining and making the inferiority of the Son to the Father the basis of his system. Not that other heresies co-existing with the beginning of Arianism were swallowed up by it, but that Arianism came to such prominence, (being either violently opposed, or espoused by the secular power, then nominally christian) that the lesser heresies (i.e. as regards the number of their adherents) were comparatively lost sight of. The religious world was ranged under two heads, the Arian and the orthodox. For many years the East was Arian, and also a great part of the West. The council of Nice was occasioned by their disputes. Persecution resulted from their bitter contests. At the commencement of the sixth century Arianism was triumphant in many parts of Asia, Africa and Europe; but it sank to nothing when the Vandals were driven out of Africa and the Goths out of Italy, though not extinguished in Italy till the close of the sixth century. Revived again in the West in the sixteenth century, it at length gradually yielded to Socinianism.

But this paper is no attempt to give an account of the different heresies which infested the early church; its object is to mark briefly the advance of infidelity which is not confined to the deniers of all revelation, but in a very insidious form attempted to destroy the foundation of Christianity while pretending to greater knowledge. Amid many notions both blasphemous and foolish from the first denial of the resurrection when the priests bribed the Roman soldiers to say, "His disciples came by night and stole Him while we slept," down to modern times, one uniform aim has ever been pursued by the religious infidel. The profane world has its aspect of infidelity in Positivism and Secularism, but that which is found in connection with the church (be it ancient Gnosticism, Arianism, Unitarianism and Rationalism of the Colenso school) is a religious infidelity equally fatal as Atheism, and more worthy of condemnation. The person of Christ has ever been the point of Satan's attack, the sole aim of the devil to deny the truth of Him. There were other errors beside Arianism, as are now beside modern unitarianism. For where the will is not subject to God there must follow heresies and divisions; but all unorthodox are not infidel.

The distinguishing mark between secular infidelity and religious is that the former denies God and His judgments, the latter is the denial of God in Christ and His grace. The former appeared when judgment or penalty was joined to the first command. The latter when grace appeared in Christ. The former has always been defiant. It began in Eden when Eve dared the threatened judgment, led away by the serpent, that said, "Ye shall not surely die." There were those in the time of Moses who like Pharaoh said "Who is Jehovah, that I should obey Him?" The same generation appears in Peter's day saying "Where is the promise of His coming." It is Satan's lie at the beginning, it is the denial of judgment, and is the same now. What infidels deny is what they fear. Did they not dread the wrath of God there would not be such strenuous efforts made to prove the Bible a myth. To these men, immortality is a more fancy, and the spirit of a man goeth downwards as of a beast. Or if they admit any kind of futurity, it is the pagan notion of Elysium. An infidel poet of the present day prates with unmeaning words of "dwelling among the stars," just as it was said by the heathen "Itur ad astra."

Religious infidelity, denying the grace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ as declared in His word, meeting the need of man ruined and utterly lost, is the special feature of the heresies of Christendom. Grace and truth came by Christ; where is grace if the glorious person of the Christ of God be lowered in any manner from what He truly is? In denying Christ, the God of all grace is denied, and in the way in which He delights to be known to man. Yet with this there was a pretended acceptance of the Bible, or of a part (for much of it was rejected by these heretics). This kind of infidelity is worse than that of the profane world.

The infidelity of the church opened the door for the worst abominations of idolatry, and in nearly every place where the light of Truth has shone the thickest darkness settled down. It was but the natural consequence of departing from the Truth. It was also retributive judgment. The eye of Christendom did not remain single, and the body was full of darkness. "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness?" When light becomes darkness, the darkness is greater than before the light came. And such was the case with that which called itself the church. In sovereign mercy God preserved a remnant for Himself; but the few faithful who would not bow to Baal set up in the nominal church were persecuted and despised by the rulers in it. Immediately previous to the Reformation was the darkest time; so dark, that that period is known to the world as the "dark ages" — such a mass of infidelity, corruption and every imaginable evil; such shameless disregard of truth, and contempt by the "clergy" for all that was called sacred. The general immorality of Christendom at that period equalled, yea, exceeded that of heathendom. For while corruption abounded in each, do the annals of paganism record a Tetzel? A man commissioned by the greatest ecclesiastical authority to give people liberty to sin for a pecuniary consideration? No immorality greater than this.

In pitying mercy to man — to the poor deluded masses, God raised up the reformers, — and through a path sprinkled with martyr's blood brought again to light the long-forgotten truth of salvation by faith in Christ alone. And the common people heard it gladly.

The heresies of the early church brought in the idolatry and darkness of the middle ages. And though the Reformation dispelled the darkness in some places, yet there remained such an amount of superstition in most places that in the last century the intellectual were driven into scepticism. In many countries men deprived of the true light by a corrupt priesthood, disgusted with all they saw, ended in Atheism, or infidelity in its most absolute form. Thus it is that infidelity and superstition reacting upon each other have like successive waves rolled over the West. The imaginative and more excitable Oriental is more the slave of superstition. But even in the West, the places where are found men who boast the loudest of intellect and knowledge, Medieval forms and ceremonies are reviving, and the religious world is fast going back into the darkness of the middle ages. The descendants of those who formerly condemned and forsook the forms and the ceremonies of establishments are now adopting them, and chapels are vying with churches in outward show. It is all superstition, though in a form pleasing to the world. It has overtaken the wave of scepticism, which a few years before rolled over our land, sapping the foundations of everything moral, honest and upright. At first the infidel sneaked in holes and corners of the earth; now with unblushing front he treads erect the streets and highways. And at this moment what is the scene which the true believer looks upon? Infidelity and superstition, whose mingled waters are rushing over the land and drowning men's souls; opposite in principle, alike in destructiveness.

If on the one hand infidels are bolder and increasing, on the other there is much more earnestness on the question of religion. By "religion" is not here meant humble and sincere searching God's word for a deeper acquaintance with it, and a life more conformed to its teachings, though that through grace is not banished from the earth. But the two names which divide the religious world are Rationalism and Ritualism. The former is religious infidelity and allied with secularism, and the latter is but another name for superstition, and tends Romeward. Both evidence the activities of a religious nature, in some the deeper misgivings in natural conscience on questions of eternal moment. If the soul is not in the presence of God, the result is that one of two courses is taken, according as the mind is superstitious or materialistic. In the latter case Rationalistic paths are followed. In the former Ritualism attracts; where the sensuous, the imaginative, and the impressible, are snared by gorgeous ceremony, and made captives by the dogmas of tradition. Rationalism subjects God's word to human reason: what it cannot comprehend, it rejects. It is sight, not faith. Even if the Rationalist accepted the whole Bible merely because his reason approves, it would not be faith. Faith says "It is written," and this suffices. Any other faith is human, not divine.

The Ritualist is fleshly in his devotions: feelings not faith, sentiment not truth, the springs of his activity. Hence that which engages the eye and the ear is cultivated. With this goes the observance of fasts and feasts, days set apart by human authority. Is not the command "Six days shalt thou labour" as much against the observance of saints' days as against the feast days of idolatry? Worse than this is the surrendering of soul and body to the authority of a man who dares to put himself between God and another's conscience. What is the difference between this blind submission and that of the ignorant pagan to his priest? Circumstances may forbid the debasing rites of idol-worship, but in the sight of God the Ritualist is an idolater.

1884 5 Paul also, by the Spirit, speaks of these men. Among the Corinthian saints some said there was no resurrection. This was the effect of the Gnostic notion that matter — and so the body — was the principle of evil. Therefore the body could not be the temple of the Holy Ghost, and it follows also that He has not come; but the Lord Jesus said He would send Him. There is denial of His word, as well as dishonour to His person.

To the Colossians the apostle writes and warns them of the danger of not holding the Head, and to remind them that "He is before all, and all things subsist together by Him," — "Whom we preach, admonishing every man." They needed warning; for among them were those who, vainly puffed up by a fleshly mind, would beguile them with a pretended humility, but doing their own will. Their notions "were only the elements of the world and not according to Christ. " For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. When writing to Timothy he speaks of the great mystery, "God (or, He who) has been manifested in flesh." It is Christ, for as all else is distinctive of the Son, so He "has been received up in glory." But in latter times some would apostatize from the faith, i.e., would deny fundamental truth, giving their minds to deceiving spirits and teachings of demons, in hypocrisy, of those speaking lies. The infidelity of the world against the God of creation is not so dreadful as this; for here are men who have in measure looked upon and handled the Word of life, and then denied Him. The impress of these early infidels is still retained by Christendom. Every succeeding generation shows it, slightly magnified it may be, but essentially the same.

There are two other forms of infidelity; but these stand apart by themselves. Delusions both infidel and idolatrous, viz., Mohammedanism and Mormonism. Infidel, for each arose in countries where Christianity had been preached, and where the truth was wholly or partially denied. Idolatrous, for each exalted a man and gave him the homage due only to Christ. But Mahomet and J. Smith stole largely from the Bible, as appears from their respective books, the Koran, and the book of Mormon. Both books pretend to be a further revelation, and completely supplant the Bible, as if it were imperfect. Neither denies it to have come from God; but, owing to its incompleteness and mistakes, a fresh communication from God was needed to develop the truth and clear it from all error, which the founder of Mormonism in his professed creed attributes to the interpolations of scribes. But he does not seek to correct the Koran; this would be very like Satan casting out Satan. Nay, it is God's Book that is set aside, His truth is denied; and this denial, whatever extravagancies and wickedness accompany it, makes these delusions infidel.

Mohammedanism had its birth in Arabia. Paul had been there (Gal. i. 17). Before the close of the sixth century idolatry again prevailed, as the Epistle to the Galatians warned of the danger, and charged its principle on such as after the cross went back to ritualism. Mahomet appears, his wife is his first convert, and she converts her cousin who was a professed christian. Thus infidelity and apostacy are stamped upon it at the first appearance. At that moment there were only three, and one an apostate! Mahomet professed to extirpate idolatry, but he only changed its character. The rally cry of his followers was "God is great and Mahomet is His prophet." Their infidelity consists in denying, not the being of God, but the person and work of the Son, and, we may add, in supplanting the abiding presence of the Spirit by the fabulous mission of the warrior vicar of God. Most of the countries now called Mohammedanism were once Christian. The reveries and wickedness of Gnosticism were received in place of the truth; and in retributive judgment they were given up to believe Mahomet's lie.

Mormonism began in America in the beginning of the 19th century. The infidelity of Mormonism is peculiar. The Mormons profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in repentance, etc.; but their infidelity spite of their "faith" which scarce exceeds the eastern delusion appears in this article of their creed, — "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the book of Mormon to be the Word of God." To add to God's word is no less infidelity than to deny any part of it. The difference as to this, between the ancient and the modern delusion, is one of degree, not of kind. The ancient says that though there may possibly be some part of the Bible true, no belief is to be placed in the copies held by christians. The later delusion accepts the Bible as christians have it, "as far as it is translated correctly." Thus Gnosticism, Mohammedanism, and Mormonism have this in common — the insufficiency of the Word of God. Each more or less sanctioned corruption; for the denial of the Word of God, whether in the form of taking from it, or of adding to it, opens the door for every fleshly wickedness.

In these brief remarks two facts are established: that man without revelation inevitably became an idolater; and that with revelation he became an infidel. Revelation, not reason, cast its light upon idolatry, and man saw that it was senseless and degrading. He forthwith derided it. The same light manifested himself, that he was a sinner and lost. This he resisted. But as he could not extinguish the light, so his unbelief could not change the fact. And just as idolatry varies in form according to the different manners and habits of men, so infidelity assumes different phases according to the special truth to which it is particularly opposed. In fact unbelief is as natural to man as idolatry: only it was latent and needed revelation to bring it out. The one is the proof of ignorance, the other the expression of enmity. Both declare the heart of man to be "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked."

How was man to be delivered from these two universal evils — idolatry and infidelity? For look where we may, one or other, or both is seen. The root-sin is unbelief and God's remedy is applied to the root. The true and only remedy is faith. And here look at faith for a moment, not in its higher character as that by which the believer is justified, but in its perfect suitability as a means to receive blessing, and indeed the only means for a creature who had become utterly incapable of doing one good work. Impotent as man is, there was worse still; for his will is opposed to God. How does he stand in relation to the testimony of that one immense fact that God sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but that it might be saved? In natural things man is so constituted that belief in well authenticated facts is involuntary. No question of like or dislike but of evidence. Can any narrative rest upon stronger human evidence than the Gospel? And if that as fact be immovable, then the truth of Christ's Person, and atonement, of God's grace and man's ruin, is undeniable. It is this that God presents to man Responsibility consists in believing the testimony of God concerning Christ, or in the rejection of it, for upon faith hangs salvation. It is clearly and solemnly, given by our Lord — "He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." But his will is opposed to God and to His truth. Does that destroy the evidence of truth, or remove responsibility? Both remain, and the cause of final judgment will — unbelief in Christ, which leaves all other sins for punishment.

The faculty of credence is inherent, and adequate testimony commands it. The business of every-day-life could not be carried on without it. An event takes place beyond sight and hearing, the evidence is unquestionable, and unhesitating credence is given to the report. This is the mere natural faculty to receive testimony; man was endowed with it when created. The fall did not destroy it. Therefore God, in providing His remedy for sin addresses this faculty of the soul, the only one which could morally be appealed. to. For the understanding was darkness, the will was enmity, and the affections were hate. A duly attested fact is record, and a Book is written whose genuineness and authenticity rest upon evidence far beyond any other book in the whole world. Thus man is challenged upon the ground of his capacity to receive evidence. Here is the point of human responsibility. It is God's remedy for sinful man brought close to him. "The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart, that is, the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Rom. x. 8, 9.) It is not understanding nor loving the testimony (that follows) but believing it. The responsibility of man as he is lies in this.

How divinely wise and suitable to the mental condition of man is God's salvation by faith. Such is the gospel; it meets man where he is, utterly unable to do any good thing for his salvation, but with a capacity to receive testimony. Those who receive the testimony of God concerning His Son are as good ground, and bring forth fruit. Light shines upon the darkness, and grace breaks down the opposing will. It may be said that many believe the testimony and remain indifferent. I doubt the reality of their believing, even with a mere human faith. When the truth of utter and eternal ruin is first realized, man cannot be indifferent. He may become so. But there is more infidelity under the garment of profession than of that bold kind which openly denies the truth. When a soul bows to the judgment of God, he receives the testimony of God, but may be as the man who said "Lord I believe, help Thou mine unbelief." And God gives the faith that brings assurance of salvation.

Idolatry, Infidelity and Faith divide mankind. The natural man as born in the world is an idolater; in the presence of Revelation, an infidel. But where by grace submission to God's word is true and unfeigned, divine faith is given. And God by it forms a distinct company for Himself. R. Beacon.