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Cause of God and Truth The

Cause of God and Truth The

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Published by: itisme_angela on Nov 02, 2010
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11/05/2011

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Wash ye, make you clean, etc.

These words are supposed to express the power of man, and
contradict the necessity of unfrustrable grace in conversion: the
argument from them is formed in this manner; "If conversion be
wrought only by the unfrustrable operation of God, and man is
purely passive in it, vain are all these commands and exhortations
directed to wicked men." The weakness of which conclusion will
appear by considering particularly each command or exhortation.
1. Wash ye, make you clean; these two are to be regarded as
one, since they intend one and the same thing; and suppose, that
men, in a state of nature, are polluted and unclean; and indeed
their pollution is of such sort, and to such a degree, that they
cannot cleanse themselves, either by ceremonial ablutions, or
moral services, or evangelical ordinances; for, who can say, I
have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin? (Prov. 20:9).
This is God’s work only, as appears from his promises to cleanse
his people from their sins; from the end of Christ’s shedding his
blood, and the efficacy of it; from the sanctifying influences of the
Spirit; and from the prayers of the saints (Ps. 51:2, 7, 10), to God,
that he would create in them clean hearts, wash them thoroughly
from
their iniquity, and cleanse them from their sin. But if this be
the case, that it is God’s work alone, and that man is incapable to
cleanse himself from sin, it will be said, to what purpose are such
exhortations? I answer, to convince men of their pollution, and
that they stand in need of being washed and cleansed, of which
they are naturally ignorant: there are two many who are pure in

their own eyes, and yet not washed from their filthiness (Prov.
30:12); as also, to bring them to a sense of their own inability to
cleanse themselves; which seems to be the particular design of
them here; since these Jews thought to have washed themselves
from their immoralities by their ceremonial services, and which
are therefore rejected by God, verses 11-15; and they,
notwithstanding all their legal purifications, are called upon to
wash and make clean: besides, such exhortations may be useful
to lead persons to inquire after the proper means of cleansing,
and so to the fountain of Christ’s blood, in which only souls being
washed are made clean. These exhortations then are not in vain;
though conversion is wrought only by the unfrustrable operation of
God, and man is purely passive in it. This view of them will help
us to understand aright some parallel places; such as Jeremiah
4:14, 13:27; 2 Corinthians 7:1; James 1:21, and James 4:8, which
commonly go in company with these.
2. Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes. Evil is
said to be put away from a nation, when it is punished in the doer
of it; see Deuteronomy 13:5, and Deuteronomy 17:7, 12; and from
a family and particular persons, when discouraged and abstained
from, Job 11:14, and 22:23. But it ought to be observed, that the
exhortation here is not barely to put away their doings, but the evil
of them; and that not from themselves, but from before the eyes
of God. Now to put away sin in this sense, is to take it away, to
remove it, as that it is pardoned, and men acquitted and
discharged from it; but this is impracticable to men, and is the act
of God only; as is evident from his promises to remove the sins of
his people; from the end of Christ’s sacrifice which was to put
away sin for ever; and from the prayers of the saints, who desire
that God would take away all iniquity, and receive graciously. But
why then is such an exhortation given? First to convince men, that

the putting away of sin from the eyes of God’s vindictive justice, is
absolutely necessary to salvation; and then that men cannot by all
their ceremonial and moral services do this; for it is not possible
that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin (Heb.
10:4); as also to lead and direct their views to the sacrifice of
Christ, which effectually does it; and without which, to what
purpose is the multitude of sacrifices
? and vain are all oblations,
verses 11, 12.
3. Cease to do evil; which regards either a cessation from
ceremonial works, which being done with a wicked mind, were an
abomination to the Lord, verses 13, 14, or an abstinence from
outward immoralities; such as shedding innocent blood,
oppressing the fatherless and widow, verses 15, 17. Now a
natural man may be able to abstain from such external enormities
of life, without supposing a power in him to do that which is
spiritually good; or that the unfrustrable grace of God is
unnecessary in conversion.
4. Learn to do well; that is, to do acts of justice, beneficence,
liberality, and charity, such as are here mentioned; seek
judgment
, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for
the widow
; all which are very commendable, and may be
performed by men in an unconverted state; and no way militate
either against man’s passiveness, or the necessity of God’s
efficacious grace in the work of conversion.

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