That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise…
It is not speculative atheism that I lay to your charge; I am far from asserting or supposing that you are intellectually without God. But of practical atheism, of being virtually without God, I must and do accuse mankind and some of you. By practical atheism I mean the believing that there is a God, and yet thinking and feeling and acting just as if there were none.
1. I adduce forgetfulness of God as a proof, or rather as one form of practical atheism.
2. As an evidence of practical atheism, a neglect to worship Him and to maintain friendly and filial intercourse with Him.
3. I state as another evidence of practical atheism, the general conduct of mankind under the various dispensations of Divine providence. Does not the rich man say in his heart, "My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth"? Or, if he cannot ascribe it altogether to his own industry and prudence, he divides the credit of it with fortune, and speaks of the lucky throw, the fortunate speculation, or the prosperous voyage, to the success of which many things conspired, but He whom the winds and waves obey is not supposed to have contributed anything.
4. As another proof of practical atheism, that men are in the habit of forming their plans and purposes, without respect to their dependence on God for the accomplishment of them, and without consulting Him. They resolve with themselves where they will go, what they will do, how much they will accomplish, just as if they had life in themselves, and were independent in wisdom and power.
5. The conduct of many, in seasons of affliction, evinces that they are without God in the world.
6. Finally, mankind, in their pursuit of happiness, evince their practical atheism. Whither should a creature in quest of joy go to obtain it, but straight to Him, who made, and who sustains both that which enjoys and that which is enjoyed, his Maker and Preserver, and the world's? Yet men fly from God for happiness. Whence have you your joys and comforts now? — from your family? — it shall be broken up; from your business? — it shall be discontinued, and you shall leave the world, and the world itself shall be consumed, and nothing will be left but the soul and God. You cannot be happy in anything else; and, if you love Him not, you cannot be happy in Him.
(W. Nevins, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: