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both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms. Yea he is hungry, and his strength faileth; he drinketh no water, and is faint. The carpenter stretcheth out his rule ; he marketh it out with a line: he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house. He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest; he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it. Then shall it be for a man to burn; for he will take thereof and warm himself;
l yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it: he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto. He burneth part thereof in the fire : with part thereof he eateth flesh: he roasteth roast, and
satisfied : yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire. And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and pray eth unto it, and saith, deliver me, for thou are my god. They have not known, nor understood : for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see, and their hearts, that they cannot understand. And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire, yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it, and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination ? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree ?**
Many of the images which the heathen worshipped were made in the most monstrous and terrible shapes they could devise ; and the more hideous and frightfulthey appeared, the better they supposed they would serve their turn for gods. Some of their images were made so as to be the most unclean representations; images of men openly exposing their nakedness. These unclean images, they judged, appeared in a god-like manner, and worthy to be worshipped. Many, instead of worshipping a holy and good God, and infinitely perfect Being, ascribed vices to many of the gods which they worshipped. One god they reckoned notorious for drunkenness; others notorious for uncleanness : to others they ascribed lying and stealing ; to others cruelty; and yet looked upon them worthy to be worshipped as gods! Many worshipped
! devils, who appeared to them, and whom they themselves reckoned to be evil spirits ; but yet built temples, and offered sacrifices to them, because they were afraid of them. Many worshipped beasts, and birds, and fishes ; and the most hateful and loathsome animals were most worshipped ; particularly, serpents were more commonly worshipped, than
Teai. xliv. 12-13.
any other beast. Many worshipped rivers, and trees, and mountains. They worshipped many diseases. There is scarcely any thing of which men have not made gods.
And so far has that principle of blindness prevailed, with respect to the things of religion, that it has in a great measure extinguished all light in the minds of many, even in matters of morality, and things that have but a distant relation to religion. So that many whole nations have professedly approved of many things directly contrary to the light of nature; and the most horrid vices and immoralities have been esteemed harmless, yea accounted virtues among them; such as revenge, cruelty and incest. Many nations have openly allowed the practice of sodomy. And with some it has been accounted commendable to marry their nearest relations. Many have even worshipped their gods in their temples with acts of drunkenness and whoredom, and the most abominable lewdness. And the more filthy they were in their uncleanness, they thought their gods the more pleased and delighted with it.
Many nations have been so under the influence of mental blindness, that they have been void of all civility, and have been reduced to a state very little above the beasts in their common customs, and ordinary way of living; and in a great many things far below the beasts : being, if I may so speak, much more beastly than the beasts themselves. Now this has not been, because these men, with whom this has been the case, have not had the same faculties that we have. That we are not as ignorant as they, is not because we have better natural understandings, or that our minds are by nature more clear, and our eyes more discerning; or that our hearts are not naturally so inclined to sottishness and delusion as theirs. But only because God has not left us so much to ourselves, as he has them. He has given us more instruction to help us against our delusions. God has so ordered it in his providence, that we should have his good word to instruct us; and has caused that we should grow up from our infancy under christian instruction.
2. The extreme blindness and sottishness in things of religion, which is naturally in the hearts of men, appears not only in embracing and professing those errors that are very great, but also those that are so unnatural. They have not only embraced errors which are very contrary to truth, but very contrary to humanity; not only against the light of nature, but against the more innocent inclinations of nature. Such has been, and still is, the blindness of many nations in the world, that they embrace those errors which do not only exclude all true virtue, all holy dispositions ; but those that have swallowed up the more harmless inclinations of human nature.
Thus they have embraced many gross delusions, that are as contrary as possible to natural affection. Such as offering up their own children in sacrifice to their idol ; which has been a common thing in the heathen world. And the parents have not only offered them up to death, but they have brought them, and offered them up to the most cruel and tormenting deaths : as, to be burnt alive, to be broiled to death in burning brass ; which was the way of offering up children to Moloch. The image of the idol being made of brass, in a horrid shape, was heated red hot ; and the poor child was laid naked in this burning brass, and so burnt to death. And the parents themselves brought the child to this offering, however sweet and pleasant a child it might be. And thus the innocent child was tormented till it died, without any regard to its piteous cries, And it has been the manner of some nations, to offer in sacrifice the fairest and best beloved child that they had. And thus many thousands of poor babes have been offered up. So strong has been the tendency of the hearts of men to de. lusion, that it has thus overcome those strong natural affections which men have to the fruit of their own bodies.
And many of these delusions have been against men's natural love of their own ease, and aversion to pain. Many have worshipped their idols, and do so to this day, with such rites as are most painful and tormenting; cutting, gashing, and mangling their own flesh. Thus they sottishly worshipped Baal of old. " And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them."* And it is still the custom in some nations grievously to torment themselves : to kindle a fire to scorch their own bodies in a most miserable manner; and to put themselves to various and long-continued torments to please their idols. And it is the manner in some countries for persons, on certain occasions, to kill themselves; yea, to put themselves to cruel deaths; to cast themselves into great fires, and there burn themselves to death. How powerful must be the delusions of the human mind, and how strong the tendency of the heart to carry them such a length, and so to overcome the tenderest feelings of human nature !
3. The extreme blindness of the mind of man will appear further, if we consider how general gross ignorance and delusion has been. It has for the most part prevailed through the greater part of the world. For most of the time from Noah's flood to the coming of Christ, all nations, except the children of Israel, were overspread with gross heathenish darkness ; being given up to the most vain and ridiculous notions, and all manner of superstitious, barbarous, absurd, and unnatural
* 1 Kings xviii. 28.
practices. And, for the greater part of the time since, most nations of the world have been covered with gross darkness.
So it is at this day. Many nations are under popish darkness, and are in such gross delusions that they worship the Virgin Mary, and a great multitude of dead men, whom their church has canonized for saints; some real saints, and others abominably wicked men. So they worship the bread in the sacrament, and account it not only the real body of Christ, but real Christ in body and soul, and divinity. They carry a wafer, a small piece of bread, in procession, fall down before it, adore it, and account it Christ himself, both in his divine and human nature; and yet believe that the body of Christ is in heaven, and in ten thousand different places on earth at the same time. They think they can do works of supererogation; that is, more good works than they are obliged to do, whereby they bring God into debt to them. They whip themselves,
, and put themselves to other ridiculous penances and sufferings, whereby they think they appease the anger of God for their sids. And they pay money to the priests, to buy the pardon of their sins; yea, they buy indulgencies for future crimes, or pardon for sins before they commit them. They think they
. defend themselves from evil spirits, by sprinkling holy water. They pay money to buy the souls of their departed friends out of purgatory; they worship the relics of dead saints ; such as pieces of their bones, their teeth, their hair, pieces of their garments, and the like. And innumerable other such foolish delusions are they under.
A great part of the nations of the world are Mahometans; many of the articles of whose belief are too childish and ridiculous to be publicly mentioned in a solemn assembly.-But the greater part of the inhabitants of the world are to this day, gross, barbarous heathens, who have not the knowledge of the true God, but worship idols and devils, with all manner of absurd and foolish rites and ceremonies ; and are destitute of even common civility: multitudes of nations being like beasts in human shape.--Now this barbarous ignorance and gross delusion being of such great extent and continuance, shows that the cause is general, and that the defect is in the corrupted nature of mankind; man's natural blindness and proneness of his heart to delusion.
4. The sottish blindness and folly of the heart of men appears in their being so prone to fall into such gross delusions, soon after they have been favoured with clear light. Were not the minds of men exceeding dark, they never would entertain such absurd notions at all ; for they are as contrary as possible to reason : much less would they fall into them, after they had once been instructed in the truth. For, were it not very strange and great sottishness indeed, they would-when Vol. VIII,
they come to be informed of the truth, and have opportunity to compare it with those gross errors—behold such a reasonableness in the truth, and such absurdity in those errors, that they would never be in danger of being deluded by them any more. But yet so it is; mankind, after they have been fully instructed, and have lived in clear light, have, time after time, presently lost the knowledge of the truth, and have exchanged it for the most barbarous and brutish notions. • So it was early after the flood, whereby the wicked world, those that were visibly so, were destroyed ; and none were left but those who professed the true religion : and they had such an eminently holy man as Noah to instruct them. And though the true God had so wonderfully and astonishingly manifested himself in that great work of vengeance against his enemies; yet the posterity of Noah, in great part, presently lost the knowledge of the true God, and fell away to idolatry; and that even while Noah was living. And the ancestors of Abraham were tainted with that idolatry ; even Terah his own father. “ And Joshua said unto all the people, thus saith the Lord God of Israel, your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor : and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood,” &c.* It seems as though Abraham was called away from his father's house, and from his own country, for this reason, that the country was overrun with idolatry.
And even many of the posterity of Abraham and Isaac-Abraham's posterity by Ilagar and Keturah, and that part of Isaac's posterity which were of Esau-though the true religion was so thoroughly taught and practised in the houses of those holy patriarchs, and God had from time to time so wonderfully and miraculously manifested himself to them, yet--soon cast off the true God, and fell away to idolatry. For, not very long after, we read of the posterity of Jacob as being the only people of God, that he had in all the earth-And so the people of that part of the land of Canaan, who were under that holy king Melchizedeck, soon totally cast off the worship of the one only true God, which he taught and maintained. For before Joshua brought in the children of Israel, the inhabitants of that land were wholly given to idolatry. So the people of the land of Uz, who were under the government of so great and holy a man as Job, soon lost the knowledge of the true God, and all those religious truths which were then known among them, and sunk into gross idolatry.
So the posterity of Jacob, themselves-though God had manifested himself to them, and had wrought such wonders
* Josh. xxiv, ii, %, 4.