Brother J. A. Davis, of Olney, Mo., asks for our views on Romans i. 18: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”
Ungodly men, and even devils, may by the evidences of things which are seen be convinced in their judgment that there is a God, and of his eternal power and Godhead by such irrefragable testimony as they see, while totally destitute of the faith of the Son of God, by which the children of God are taught by the Spirit. The ungodly are convinced by the things which are clearly seen, and therefore walk only by sight; while those who are born from above, and are led by the Spirit, walk by faith, and not by sight. But whether the conviction is held by the external things which are made, and are clearly seen, or known or held by special and experimental revelation to the faith of God’s elect, the fact is in itself a truth, an eternal reality. There is a supreme God, who has written the evidence of his eternal power and Godhead indelibly on all the things which he has made. The heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth his handiwork. The starry sky, with all its numberless lights, the teeming earth, with all its animal, vegetable and mineral productions, present such incontestable evidence of the existence of God that none but the fool is left to deny his existence. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” His power is seen as displayed in the creation, his eternity, in which he must have existed before he created the world, or put in motion the revolving wheels of nature or of time. All this is clearly seen by all intelligent beings, and this conviction is held, even by the ungodly, as a truth. But with the ungodly and devils it is held in unrighteousness, as shown by the connection of our text: “Because that when they knew him,” (in that which may be known of him, and as manifest in them,) “they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.” Thus what truth they held of his being and attributes, they held in unrighteousness, plunging into the vilest depth of idolatry and unrighteousness.
Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, in the way, manner and forms described in the chapter, as it is said, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own flesh,” &c. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind.” Thus showing his wrath by suffering them to act out the lusts and abominations of their depraved nature until they should fill up to cup of their iniquity, and receive their final doom; as this apostle shows in the ninth chapter of this epistle how God’s wrath from heaven is displayed: “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power know, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” To be suffered to rush on unrestrained in the gratification of our own lusts, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, is a signal demonstration of the wrath of God, in its terrible revelation from heaven, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Middletown, N. Y.
Signs of the Times
Volume 49, No. 2.
January 15, 1881