Part 2 Chapter 5

Section 1John 14:4

Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.

Aben Ezra observes, that the sense of these words is the same with Psalm 2:5, and the meaning of them is,who can bring one that is pure, bahasd rbg n ybwjk, from a man defiled with sins? as the Targum paraphrases them; none but God can do this; of which there never was but one instance, the man Christ Jesus, who not descending, from Adam by ordinary generation, was not polluted with sin. Now Job makes mention of the corruption of nature, as the source of all the sorrows and frailty of man in general (vv. 1, 2), and as matter of humiliation to himself, and as a reason why he could not bear the strict judgment of God, but must humbly plead for his grace and mercy, (v. 3). But, against this sense of the words,

1. It is objected,[1] that they are obscure, and interpreters disagree about the meaning of them; and therefore can be no solid proof of the point in question. But, perhaps, the obscurity is not so much in the words as in the interpreters, who give either false or improper senses of them. Some understand them of the impurity of matter, out of which the body of man was formed at first; whereas, neither that matter, nor the body of man formed out of it, was impure. Others, of the vileness of man, when compared with God (as in John 4:17-19; 15:14,16; 25:4,5). When neither here, in the places cited, is any mention of a comparative uncleanness of men with God, but of the angels,the heavens, the moon and stars; from whence a real impurity in man is argued, who therefore must be abominable in the sight of God. Others think Job refers to the impurity of men's actions; and that his meaning is, that nothing is to be expected from a polluted man, but what savors of the corruption of his nature. This is a truth, but not the truth of the text; yet not subversive of it, it rather confirms it.

2. It is urged,[2] that Job here speaks not of a moral but physical uncleanness; such as diseases, filthy racers, etc., arising from the infirmity and corruptibility of nature; and that his meaning is, it was enough that he was attended with common infirmities, without being pressed with greater and extraordinary ones. But, are all men attended with diseases? Yea, are all so, who are born of distempered parents? Are all born with filthy ulcers? Was Job brought into the world with his boils upon him? If it should be said, though this is not the case of all men, yet there is the common infirmity of nature, the spring of all these disorders, in all men. It is true, indeed, that mini, in his fallen state, is subject to these things? but from whence does this infirmity of nature arise, but from the corruption and vitiosity of it?

3. It is said,[3] that the meaning of this Scripture is, "that from parents, obnoxious to sin, will spring forth children; that when they come to discern between good and evil, will be obnoxious to sin also." I answer, that parents and their children are not only obnoxious to sin, but are really sinners; and be it so, that they are only obnoxious to sin, from whence does this obnoxiousness arise? It must be either from example, or from depravity; not from the former, since men are obnoxious to, and capable of committing sins they never saw committed; wherefore, this must spring from the corruption of nature.


[1] Curcellaeus p. 140.

[2] Episcop. Instit. Theol. 1 5, c. 9, p. 406, 407; Limborch, p. 192.

[3] Whitby, p. 326; ed. 2.317.

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