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only to the God of heaven and earth. Whilst it displays the debasement of our nature, it proves the malignant hatred of our carnal minds against the true God. It is an outrageous insult cast upon his matchless perfections, to call dumb idols by his name; and an unprincipled contempt of his law, which forbids such conduct, to bow down and worship these idols as gods..
In admirable strains does Scripture repeatedly ridicule the folly of idolaters, and with awful severity does it denounce their guilt. “ They lavish gold out of the bag, “ and weigh silver in the balance, and hire “a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: “ they fall down, yea, they worship. They “ bear him upon the shoulder, they carry “ him and set him in his place, and he stand“eth : from his place shall he not remove: “ yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not “ answer, nor save him out of his trouble.” “ They shall be ashamed and also confound“ed, all of them, they shall go to confu“ sion together that are makers of idols'.” “ Confounded be all they that serve graven “ images, that boast themselves of idols?.”.
a Is. xlvi. 6, 7. b Is. xlv. 16. c Ps. xcvii. 7.
Such is the nature of that crime with which the prophet in the text charges Israel. It was not a transient act in them; it was their deliberate, their determined, their persevering conduct, to make gods of their own. They were, in the strong language of Jeremiah, “ mad upon their “idols,” furiously attached to them; and, in the words of the text, “joined to their “ idols,” closely connected with them, loving them as they did themselves, serving them and adoring them. For this crime they were repeatedly threatened with the wrath of God. Seeing their obstinacy in it, he gave them up to themselves, commanding all his agents and instruments, by which he effects his purposes, to let them alone. His restraining grace being withdrawn, they fearfully transgressed in their wickedness, adding iniquity unto iniquity, until the measure of their guilt was full. Then Jehovah abandoned them to a foreign foe, who destroyed their nation, overturned their government, ruined their country, and carried them into captivity to distant lands. There have they remained, unknown, alienated from God and ignorant of the word of his grace, scattered abroad, wanderers and outcasts among the nations. Thus have they been punished, according to the threatenings of God, in the most exemplary manner for their sins. “ Being joined to idols, “ they have been left alone” to work out their own destruction. In them we have a striking example for our warning and improvement.
What Israel was as a nation, you and I, Brethren, are by nature ; idolatrous in our disposition and conduct. What Israel as a nation now suffers, we shall individually suffer, if joined to idols.
Such is the use I intend to make of these words, and such the order of discourse which will be pursued.
I. We are all by nature idolatrous in our disposition and conduct.
Though we do not bow before stocks and stones, yet we love and honour the creature more than the Creator. In this consists the essence of idolatry, which is also called spiritual whoredom. It is a breach of our obligation to the God who made and preserves and blesses us, originating in ignorance of his nature, and cherished by hatred of his
S PIRITUAL I
OF SPIRITUAL IDOLATRY
real character. That this is its true description, will appear evident to any who read with attention the prophecies of Ezekiel and Hosea, together with the epistles of Paul to the Corinthians, and the first epistle of John.
To the testimonies of Scripture, we may add the assent of reason. Idolatry is false worship, or worship paid where it is not due. Worship, being a religious act of reverence, includes in it supreme love of and obedience to the will or spirit of the object of worship, so far as the same is known. Now we are uniformly called upon in Scripture to love God alone supremely, and honour him by obeying his will, in opposition to every other will. Whenever, therefore, our highest affection and most implicit homage are given to any thing but God, we are guilty of that which essentially is idolatry ; that is, we pay it religious reverence; we make it our god, the source of our happiness, and the regulator of our lives.
Every sinner naturally hates God, and disobeys his will. He has all the powers of his body, the qualities of his heart, and the faculties of his mind, the same, as to their
existence, that he would have if he was at peace with God. But all these are directed, in their operation, into channels contrary to what they ought to be. They are defiled by sin. Having all his passions which must be exercised from the nature of man, we find them unruly and exercised towards improper objects. He hates what he ought to love, and loves what he ought to hate. He fears what he ought to delight in, and takes delight in what he ought to fear. Hence, hating God, he loves what is hateful to God; and, as our 'affections impel to action, what he hates he will dishonour; what he loves he will honour. Hating God, he disobeys his law. Loving what is hostile to God, he lives according to its spirit, whatever it may be. What he thus loves and honours is his idol, or, in other words, the object of his worship.
The idols of a sinner are himself, others, and the world. Each shall be briefly noticed in detail.
1. The sinner idolizes himself. “ Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and “evilo," was the temptation of Satan to our
B Gen. iii. 5,