3899. In what precedes in this chapter of Matthew the successive vastation of the church has been treated of-that they should first begin no longer to know what good and truth are, but should dispute about them; next that they should despise them; thirdly that they should not acknowledge them; and fourthly that they should profane them (see n. 3754). The subject now treated of is the state of the church in respect to its quality at that time as to doctrine in general, and with those specifically who are in holy external worship, but in profane internal worship; that is, who with the mouth profess the Lord with holy reverence, but at heart worship themselves and the world, so that with them the worship of the Lord is a means of gaining honors and wealth. Insofar as these persons have acknowledged the Lord, and the heavenly life and faith, so far do they profane them when they become of such a character. This state of the church is now treated of, as may better appear from the internal sense of the Lord's words quoted above, which is as follows.