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ing, and committing adultery, they broke out, and
blood touched blood *'. In both the historical and prophetical parts of the Old Testament, fimilar defcriptions are given of the character of that people whom the prophet here addressed. Such then being their condition, no wonder their prayers were shut out from before God, and that he would not hear them when they called upon him.-By the instructive variety of fignificant expressions used by our prophet on this subject, we are taught, that frequent, pompous, and costly services, feparated from true godliness, and holiness of heart and life, far from being acceptable to the Lord, are an abomination in his fight, and unprofitable to those who perform them. We have inculcated upon us this im. portant lesson, that hypocrisy, in the service of the Living God, is molt detestable to him, who delights in truth in the inward parts ; and that whilst persons indulge in the practice of iniquity, they cannot expect he will regard their prayers, or other acts of worship. Let us, my friends, be hereby excited to diligent attention to our fpirits, especially when employed in the service of the Searcher of hearts, Whilst many rest satisfied with the form of godliness, the profession of Christianity, and the performance of the external part of duty, let it be our constant study to serve the Lord in fincerity and truth, under a deep conviction, that he knoweth our hearts, and ponders our paths.
'16 Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil.
After the warm expostulations contained in the preceding verses, we might justly have expected to hear awful denunciations of terrible judgments against those who were addicted to such fintul practices. In,
stead of these, we are agreeably surprised with the most friendly and falutary advices, necessary to be carefully attended to, and faithfully observed, in order to deliverance from deserved calamities.-Wash ye. The people, to whom these words were primarily directed, were not only polluted through the corruption of their nature in common with others, in consequence of descending from those who had revolted from God, but they had defiled themselves by their multiplied transgressions, and the unholy performance of the duties of divine worship. Sin is represented in scripture under many instructive fimilitudes, serving to shew its vile abominable nature, its odiousness in his fight, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and the impurity of such as indulge in it. We thereby contract that filthiness of the flesh and spirit, that universal pollution with which our souls and bodies are tainted, and from which our outward and inward man, our hearts and our hands, need to be cleansed. All the washings and purifications under the law plainly supposed this defilement: they represented to men the indispensable necessity of their being cleansed from sin, and were emblematical of what is here recommended. Though this, and the following expression, may be viewed as explaining and enforcing each other, it may not be improper to consider the first, as relating to pardon of sin, from the guilt of which we are delivered by the precious blood of Christ, and the latter, as respecting the pollution of sin, from which we are freed by the spirit of Jesus. Both these are equally necessary to the salvation of men, and inseparably joined together in the promises and commands of God. From the express declarations contained in fcripture, it apo pears, that the guilt of fin is removed by the blood of the Son of God, who loved us, and washed us from our fins in his own blood, by faith in which we are freely justified. This blood, and the absolute necessity of its application, were typified, under the Old
Testament, to the people whom our prophet now addrefled. When therefore he directs them to wash, he requires the diligent use of the means and institutions which God had appointed, that thereby they might obtain the remission of sins, and be saved from the punishment of their tranfgreffions; and cautions them to beware of those fins which would add to the guilt already contracted.
Make you clean. God, in infinite mercy, hath promised, " I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and
ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from • all your idols will I cleanse you *.'
*.' This intimates his gracious intentions, his perfect ability, to purify the most polluted sinners, and that this extraordinary work is peculiar to him, who only can bring a clean out of an unclean thing. Notwithstanding, in perfect consistence with such promises, God faith, by Ifaiah, Make you clean ; intimating, that it is our indispensable duty, to concur with him in carrying on this great work, by the diligent improvement of the means he hath appointed for acquiring the purity he hath promised, which is essential to our true happiness, and carefully to avoid every thing that might increase our impurity. To wash and purify his people is the glorious prerogative of the blessed God, and is effectuated by his word and Spirit; and therefore we observe the supplicants before his throne, under deep impression of this humbling truth, adopting fuch requests as this, ' Wash me throughly from mine ini
quity, and cleanse me from my sint:'As the purification, here spoken of, is equally incumbent upon you, brethren, as upon the Jews of old, permit me to exhort you, in the words of God, “Wah ye, • make ye clean. Cleanse your hands, ye finners, * purify your hearts, ye double-minded 1. To this necessary work I call you, in order to convince you of your pollution, and your utter inability to wafh
* Ezek. xxxvi, 25.
+ Píal. li. 2.
# James iv. 8.
away your spiritual defilement, to inculcate 'upon you the indispensable necessity of being throughly cleansed from your iniquities, and to excite you to the diligent use of all the means instituted for this purpose. Had I been illustrating these directions whilft Judaism was in force, I would have advised to the ceremonial washings appointed under the law, which fanctified to the purifying of the flesh, and typified good things which were then future. But now tiese carnal ordinances being abolished under the gospel, I call you to the fountain opened for fin and . uncleanness;' and you are now invited to repair to it immediately, in the exercise of faith, humility, and defire, that you may be washed from your sins, and cleansed from your pollutions, that your consciences being purified from dead works, you may serve the Living God.
Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes. The actions referred to, in this advice, seem to be those mentioned in the preceding verses. The multitude of sacrifices which the men of Judah presented before the Lord, the folemn appearances they made in his divine presence, the observance of their sacred assemblies and appointed feasts, together with their many prayers, were no doubt the doings here intended. Much fin, particularly of hypocrily and formality, attended the performance of these duties; respecting which, God, by the prophet; had expoftulated with them, in the foregoing verses; and this it is which they are directed to put away. They did not observe divine institutions out of love to God and his authority, they did not delight in drawing nigh to him with their whole hearts, nor were they animated by a lively faith in the great objects prefigured by the different parts of their worship. All the evil that attended their doings was perfectly known to him, who searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins of the children of men, and before whom all things are naked and open. Not a sinful thought, not the least dilli
mulation, not a wrong intention or corrupt principle, sprung up in their hearts, but it came fully under his inspection, and proved highly offenfive to him, who cannot look on fin but with detestation. That their doings might become acceptable to him, they are directed to put away the evil that adhered to their fervices, and heartily to renounce all those vicious principles, and wrong views, whereby they had been influenced in the worship of the true God. For this purpose, it was necessary that their hearts should be purified by faith, their mistaken views corrected, their temper rectified, and their practices reformed. This exhortation is no less necessary to us, than to those to whom it was primarily given. Ye may be sensible, that much sin cleaves to all our services, which ought not only to be acknowledged with sorrow, but renounced as hurtful and dangerous. • If then iniquity be in your hand, put it far
away, and let not wickedness dwell in nacles. For then shalt thou lift up thy face without
thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear. *' Cease to do evil. Similar, short, comprehensive directions are often repeated, both in the Old and New Testament. We are exhorted,' to depart from
evil, and do good t;' we are required, 'to abhor that which is evil, and to cleave to that which is
good 1. Though evil sometimes denotes, in fcripture, all manner of fin and wickedness, it is to be un. derstood at other times in a more restricted sense, for the wrongs and injuries done by one person to an. other. In this sense, our divine Master requires us not to resist evil ||. This last seems evidently to be the import of the word in the expression before us, where the professing people of God are supposed to have been addicted to the practice of evil, and are dissuaded from persisting in those evils they committed against
• spot, yea,
I Rom. xii. 9.