2 Peter 2

CHAPTER II.

False teachers foretold, who shall bring in destructive

doctrines and shall pervert many, but at last be destroyed by

the judgments of God, 1-3.

Instances of God's judgments in the rebellious angels, 4.

In the antediluvians, 5.

In the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, 6-8.

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly, as well as to punish

the ungodly, 9.

The character of those seducing teachers and their disciples;

they are unclean, presumptuous, speak evil of dignities,

adulterous, covetous, and cursed, 10-14.

Have forsaken the right way, copy the conduct of Balaam, speak

great swelling words, and pervert those who had escaped from

error, 15-19.

The miserable state of those who, having escaped the corruption

that is in the world, have turned back like the dog to his

vomit, and the washed swine to her wallowing in the mire,

20-22.

NOTES ON CHAP. II.

Verse 1. But there were false prophets] There were not only

holy men of God among the Jews, who prophesied by Divine

inspiration, but there were also false prophets, whose prophecies

were from their own imagination, and perverted many.

As there shall be false teachers among you] At a very early

period of the Christian Church many heresies sprung up; but the

chief were those of the Ebionites, Cerinthians, Nicolaitans,

Menandrians, and Gnostics, of whom many strange things have been

spoken by the primitive fathers, and of whose opinions it is

difficult to form any satisfactory view. They were, no doubt, bad

enough, and their opponents in general have doubtless made them

worse. By what name those were called of whom the apostle here

speaks, we cannot tell. They were probably some sort of apostate

Jews, or those called the Nicolaitans. See the preface.

Damnable heresies] αιρεσειςαπωλειας. Heresies of

destruction; such as, if followed, would lead a man to perdition.

And these παρεισαξουσιν, they will bring in privately-cunningly,

without making much noise, and as covertly as possible. It would

be better to translate destructive heresies than damnable.

Denying the Lord that bought them] It is not certain whether

God the Father be intended here, or our Lord Jesus Christ; for God

is said to have purchased the Israelites, Ex 15:16, and to be the

Father that had bought them, De 32:6, and the words may refer to

these or such like passages; or they may point out Jesus Christ,

who had bought them with his blood; and the heresies, or dangerous

opinions, may mean such as opposed the Divinity of our Lord, or

his meritorious and sacrificial death, or such opinions as bring

upon those who hold them swift destruction. It seems, however,

more natural to understand the Lord that bought them as applying

to Christ, than otherwise; and if so, this is another proof, among

many, 1. That none can be saved but by Jesus Christ. Z. That

through their own wickedness some may perish for whom Christ died.

Verse 2. Many shall follow] WILL follow, because determined

to gratify their sinful propensities.

Pernicious ways] ταιςαπωλειαις. Their destructions; i.e.

the heresies of destruction, or destructive opinions, mentioned

above. But instead of απωλειαις, destructions, ασελγειαις,

lasciviousnesses or uncleannesses, is the reading of ABC, and

upwards of sixty others, most of which are among the most ancient,

correct, and authentic. This is the reading also of both the

Syriac, all the Arabic, the Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Slavonic,

Vulgate, Chrysostom, Theophylact, OEcumenius, and Jerome. A very

few, and those of little repute, have the word in the text.

The word lasciviousnesses is undoubtedly the true reading, and

this points out what the nature of the heresies was: it was a sort

of Antinomianism; they pampered and indulged the lusts of the

flesh; and, if the Nicolaitans are meant, it is very applicable to

them, for they taught the community of wives, &c. Griesbach has

received this reading into the text.

By reason of whom] These were persons who professed

Christianity; and because they were called Christians, and

followed such abominable practices, the way of truth-the Christian

religion, βλασφημηθησεται, was blasphemed. Had they called

themselves by any name but that of Christ, his religion would not

have suffered.

Verse 3. And through covetousness] That they might get money

to spend upon their lusts, with feigned words, πλαστοιςλογοις,

with counterfeit tales, false narrations, of pretended facts,

lying miracles, fabulous legends. "In this single sentence," says

Dr. Macknight, "there is a clear prediction of the iniquitous

practices of those great merchants of souls, the Romish clergy,

who have rated all crimes, even the most atrocious, at a fixed

price; so that if their doctrine be true, whoever pays the price

may commit the crime without hazarding his salvation." How the

popish Church has made merchandise of souls, needs no particular

explanation here. It was this abominable doctrine that showed to

some, then in that Church, the absolute necessity of a

reformation.

Whose judgment now of a long time] From the beginning God has

condemned sin, and inflicted suitable punishments on

transgressors; and has promised in his word, from the earliest

ages, to pour out his indignation on the wicked. The punishment,

therefore, so long ago predicted, shall fall on these impure and

incorrigible sinners; and the condemnation which is denounced

against them slumbers not-it is alert, it is on its way, it is

hurrying on, and must soon overtake them.

Verse 4. For if God spared not the angels] The angels were

originally placed in a state of probation; some having fallen and

some having stood proves this. How long that probation was to

last to them, and what was the particular test of their fidelity,

we know not; nor indeed do we know what was their sin; nor when

nor how they fell. St. Jude says they kept not their first

estate, but left their own habitation; which seems to indicate

that they got discontented with their lot, and aspired to higher

honours, or perhaps to celestial domination. The tradition of

their fall is in all countries and in all religions, but the

accounts given are various and contradictory; and no wonder, for

we have no direct revelation on the subject. They kept not their

first estate, and they sinned, is the sum of what we know on the

subject; and here curiosity and conjecture are useless.

But cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of

darkness] αλλασειραιςζοφουταρταρωσαςπαρεδωκενειςκρισιν

τετηρημενους. But with chains of darkness confining them in

Tartarus, delivered them over to be kept to judgment; or, sinking

them into Tartarus, delivered them over into custody for

punishment, to chains of darkness. Chains of darkness is a highly

poetic expression. Darkness binds them on all hands; and so dense

and strong is this darkness that it cannot be broken through; they

cannot deliver themselves, nor be delivered by others.

As the word Tartarus is found nowhere else in the New

Testament, nor does it appear in the Septuagint, we must have

recourse to the Greek writers for its meaning. Mr. Parkhurst,

under the word ταρταροω, has made some good collections from those

writers, which I here subjoin.

"The Scholiast on AESCHYLUS, Eumen., says: Pindar relates that

Apollo overcame the Python by force; wherefore the earth

endeavoured ταρταρωσαι, to cast him into Tartarus. Tzetzes

uses the same word, ταρταροω, for casting or sending into

Tartarus; and the compound verb καταταρταρουν, is found in

Apollodorus; in Didymus' Scholia on Homer; in Phurnutus, De

Nat, Deor., p. 11, edit. Gale; and in the book περιποταμων,

which is extant among the works of Plutarch. And those whom

Apollodorus styles καταταρταρωθεντας, he in the same breath calls

ριφθενταςειςταρταρον, cast into Tartarus. Thus the learned

Windet, in Pole's Synopsis. We may then, I think, safely assert

that ταρταρωσας, in St. Peter, means not, as Mede (Works, fol.,

p. 23) interprets it, to adjudge to, but to cast into, Tartarus;

ριπτεινειςταρταρον, as in Homer, cited below. And in order to

know what was the precise intention of the apostle by this

expression, we must inquire what is the accurate import of the

term ταρταρος. Now, it appears from a passage of Lucian, that by

ταρταρος was meant, in a physical sense, the bounds or verge

of this material system; for, addressing himself to ερως, Cupid

or Love, he says: συγαρεξαφανουςκαικεχυμενηςαμορφιαςτοπαν

εμορφωσαςκτλ 'Thou formedst the universe from its confused

and chaotic state; and, after separating and dispersing the

circumfused chaos, in which, as in one common sepulchre, the whole

world lay buried, thou drovest it to the confines or recesses of

outer Tartarus-

'Where iron gates and bars of solid brass

Keep it in durance irrefrangible,

And its return prohibit.'

"The ancient Greeks appear to have received, by tradition, an

account of the punishment of the 'fallen angels,' and of bad men

after death; and their poets did, in conformity I presume with

that account, make Tartarus the place where the giants who

rebelled against Jupiter, and the souls of the wicked, were

confined. 'Here,' saith Hesiod, Theogon., lin. 720, 1, 'the

rebellious Titans were bound in penal chains.'

τοσσονενερθυπογηςοσονουρανοςεσταπογαιης

ισονγαρταπογηςεςταρταρονηεροεντα

'As far beneath the earth as earth from heaven;

For such the distance thence to Tartarus.'

Which description will very well agree with the proper sense

of Tartarus, if we take the earth for the centre of the material

system, and reckon from our zenith, or the extremity of the

heavens that is over our heads. But as the Greeks imagined the

earth to be of a boundless depth, so it must not be dissembled

that their poets speak of Tartarus as a vast pit or gulf in the

bowels of it. Thus Hesiod in the same poem, lin. 119, calls it-

ταρταρατηεροενταμυχωχθονοςευρυοδειης.

'Black Tartarus, within earth's spacious womb.'

"And Homer, Iliad viii., lin. 13, &c., introduces Jupiter

threatening any of the gods who should presume to assist either

the Greeks or the Trojans, that he should either come back wounded

to heaven, or be sent to Tartarus.

ημινελωνριψωεςταρταρονηερεντα

τηλεμαληχιβαθιστονυποχθονοςεστιβεπεθρον

ενθασιδηρειαιτεπυλαικαιχαλκεοςουδος

τοσσονενερθαιδεωοσονονρανοςεσταπογαιης

'Or far, O far, from steep Olympus thrown,

Low in the deep Tartarean gulf shall groan.

That gulf which iron gates and brazen ground

Within the earth inexorably bound;

As deep beneath th' infernal centre hurl'd,

As from that centre to the ethereal world.'

POPE.

'Where, according to Homer's description, Iliad viii., lin.

480, 1,-

ουταυγηςυπεριονοςηελιοιο

τερποντουτανεμοισι. βαθυςδετεταρταροςαμοις

'No sun e'er gilds the gloomy horrors there,

No cheerful gales refresh the lazy air,

But murky Tartarus extends around.' POPE.

"Or, in the language of the old Latin poet, (cited by Cicero,

Tuscul., lib. i. cap. 15,)

Ubi rigida constat crassa caligo inferum.

"On the whole, then, ταρταρουν, in St. Peter, is the same as

ριπτεινεςταρταρον, to throw into Tartarus, in Homer, only

rectifying the poet's mistake of Tartarus being in the bowels of

the earth, and recurring to the original sense of that word above

explained, which when applied to spirits must be interpreted

spiritually; and thus ταρταρωσας will import that God cast the

apostate angels out of his presence into that ζοφοςτουσκοτους,

blackness of darkness, (2Pe 2:17; Jude 1:13,) where they will

be for ever banished from the light of his countenance, and from the

beatifying influence of the ever blessed Three, as truly as a

person plunged into the torpid boundary of this created system

would be from the light of the sun and the benign operations of

the material heavens."

By chains of darkness we are to understand a place of darkness

and wretchedness, from which it is impossible for them to escape.

Verse 5. Spared not the old world] The apostle's argument is

this: If God spared not the rebellious angels, nor the sinful

antediluvians, nor the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, he will not

spare those wicked teachers who corrupt the pure doctrines of

Christianity.

Saved Noah the eighth] Some think that the words should be

translated, Noah the eighth preacher of righteousness; but it

seems most evident, from 1Pe 3:20,

that eight persons are here meant, which were the whole that were

saved in the ark, viz. Shem, Ham, Japhet, and their three wives,

six; Noah's wife seven; and Noah himself the eighth. The form of

expression, ογδοονμωε, Noah the eighth, i.e. Noah and seven

more, is most common in the Greek language. So in APPIAN, Bell.

Pun., p. 12, τριτοςδεποτεενσπηλαιωκρυπτομενοςελαθε,

sometimes he the third (i.e. he with two others) lay hid in a

cave. ANDOCIDES, Orat. iv. p. 295: αιρεθειςεπιτουτωδεκατος

αυτος, he himself the tenth (i.e. he and nine others) were

chosen to this. See a number of other examples in Kypke.

World of the ungodly] A whole race without God-without any

pure worship or rational religion.

Verse 6. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrha] See the notes on

Gen. 19, for an account of the sin and punishment of these

cities.

Making them an ensample] These three words, υποδειγμα

παραδειγμα, and δειγμα, are used to express the same idea; though

the former may signify an example to be shunned, the second an

example to be followed, and the third a simple exhibition. But

these differences are not always observed.

Verse 7. Vexed with the filthy conversation] καταπονουμενον

υποτηςτωναθεσμωνενασελγειααναστροφης. Being exceedingly

pained with the unclean conduct of those lawless persons. What

this was, see in the history, Gen. 19., and the notes there.

Verse 8. That righteous man dwelling among them] Lot, after

his departure from Abraham, A. M. 2086, lived at Sodom till A. M.

2107, a space of about twenty years; and, as he had a righteous

soul, he must have been tormented with the abominations of that

people from day to day.

The word εβασανιζεν, tormented, is not less emphatic than the

word καταπονουμενον, grievously pained, in the preceding verse,

and shows what this man must have felt in dwelling so long among a

people so abandoned.

Verse 9. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly] The

preservation and deliverance of Lot gave the apostle occasion to

remark, that God knew as well to save as to destroy; and that his

goodness led him as forcibly to save righteous Lot, as his justice

did to destroy the rebellious in the instances already adduced.

And the design of the apostle in producing these examples is to

show to the people to whom he was writing that, although God would

destroy those false teachers, yet he would powerfully save his

faithful servants from their contagion and from their destruction.

We should carefully observe, 1. That the godly man is not to be

preserved from temptation. 2. That he will be preserved in

temptation. 3. That he will be delivered out of it.

Verse 10. But chiefly them that walk] That is, God will in

the most signal manner punish them that walk after the flesh-

addict themselves to sodomitical practices, and the lust of

pollution; probably alluding to those most abominable practices

where men abuse themselves and abuse one another.

Despise government.] They brave the power and authority of the

civil magistrate, practising their abominations so as to keep out

of the reach of the letter of the law; and they speak evil of

dignities-they blaspheme civil government, they abhor the

restraints laid upon men by the laws, and would wish all

governments destroyed that they might live as they list.

Presumptuous are they] τολμηται. They are bold and daring,

headstrong, regardless of fear.

Self-willed] αυθαδεις. Self-sufficient; presuming on

themselves; following their own opinions, which no authority can

induce them to relinquish.

Are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.] They are lawless

and disobedient, spurn all human authority, and speak

contemptuously of all legal and civil jurisdiction. Those in

general despise governments, and speak evil of dignities, who wish

to be under no control, that they may act as freebooters in the

community.

Verse 11. Whereas angels, &c.] This is a difficult verse, but

the meaning seems to be this: The holy angels, who are represented

as bringing an account of the actions of the fallen angels before

the Lord in judgment, simply state the facts without exaggeration,

and without permitting any thing of a bitter, reviling, or railing

spirit, to enter into their accusations. See Zec 3:1, and

Jude 1:9; to the former of which St. Peter evidently alludes.

But these persons, not only speak of the actions of men which they

conceive to be wrong, but do it with untrue colourings, and the

greatest malevolence. Michael, the archangel, treated a damned

spirit with courtesy; he only said, The Lord rebuke thee, Satan!

but these treat the rulers of God's appointment with disrespect

and calumny.

Before the Lord.] παρακυριω is wanting in a number of MSS. and

most of the versions.

Verse 12. But these, as natural brute beasts] ωςαλογαζωα

φυσικα. As those natural animals void of reason, following only

the gross instinct of nature, being governed neither by reason nor

religion.

Made to be taken and destroyed] Intended to be taken with nets

and gins, and then destroyed, because of their fierce and

destructive nature; so these false teachers and insurgents must be

treated; first incarcerated, and then brought to judgment, that

they may have the reward of their doings. And thus, by

blaspheming what they do not understand, they at last perish in

their own corruption; i.e. their corrupt doctrines and vicious

practices.

Verse 13. They that count it pleasure to riot in the day

time.] Most sinners, in order to practise their abominable

pleasures, seek the secrecy of the night; but these, bidding

defiance to all decorum, decency, and shame, take the open day,

and thus proclaim their impurities to the sun.

Spots-and blemishes] They are a disgrace to the Christian

name.

Sporting themselves] Forming opinions which give license to

sin, and then acting on those opinions; and thus rioting in their

own deceits.

With their own deceivings] ενταιςαπαταις. But instead of

this, AB, and almost all the versions and several of the fathers,

have ενταιςαγαπαις, in your love feasts, which is probably the

true reading.

While they feast with you] It appears they held a kind of

communion with the Church, and attended sacred festivals, which

they desecrated with their own unhallowed opinions and conduct.

Verse 14. Having eyes full of adultery] μοιχαλιδος. Of an

adulteress; being ever bent on the gratification of their sensual

desires, so that they are represented as having an adulteress

constantly before their eyes, and that their eyes can take in no

other object but her. But instead of μοιχαλιδος of an adulteress,

the Codex Alexandrinus, three others, with the Coptic, Vulgate,

and one copy of the Itala, together with several of the fathers,

have μοιχαλιας, of adultery.

Cannot cease from sin] Which cease not from sin; they might

cease from sin, but they do not; they love and practise it.

Instead of ακαταπαυστους, which cannot cease, several MSS. and

versions have ακαταπαυστου, and this requires the place to be

read, Having eyes full of adultery and incessant sin. The images

of sinful acts were continually floating before their disordered

and impure fancy. This figure of speech is very common in the

Greek writers; and Kypke gives many instances of it, which indeed

carry the image too far to be here translated.

Beguiling unstable souls] The metaphor is taken from

adulterers seducing unwary, inexperienced, and light, trifling

women; so do those false teachers seduce those who are not

established in righteousness.

Exercised with covetous practices] The metaphor is taken from

the agonistae in the Grecian games, who exercised themselves in

those feats, such as wrestling, boxing, running, &c., in which

they proposed to contend in the public games. These persons had

their hearts schooled in nefarious practices; they had exercised

themselves till they were perfectly expert in all the arts of

seduction, overreaching, and every kind of fraud.

Cursed children] Such not only live under God's curse here,

but they are heirs to it hereafter.

Verse 15. Which have forsaken the right way] As Balaam did,

who, although God showed him the right way, took one contrary to

it, preferring the reward offered him by Balak to the approbation

and blessing of God.

The way of Balaam] Is the counsel of Balaam. He counselled the

Moabites to give their most beautiful young women to the

Israelitish youth, that they might be enticed by them to commit

idolatry.

See Clarke on Nu 22:5, &c., and "Nu 23:1", &c.

The son of Bosor] Instead of βοσορ, BOSOR two ancient MSS. and

some of the versions have βεωρ, Beor, to accommodate the word to

the Hebrew text and the Septuagint. The difference in this name

seems to have arisen from mistaking one letter for another in the

Hebrew name, Beor, for Betsor or Bosor;

tsaddi and ain , which are very like each other, being

interchanged.

Verse 16. The dumb ass, speaking with man's voice]

See Clarke on Nu 22:28.

The madness of the prophet.] Is not this a reference to the

speech of the ass, as represented in the Targums of Jonathan ben

Uzziel and Jerusalem? "Wo to thee, Balaam, thou sinner, thou

madman: there is no wisdom found in thee." These words contain

nearly the same expressions as those in St. Peter.

Verse 17. These are wells without water] Persons who, by

their profession, should furnish the water of life to souls

athirst for salvation; but they have not this water; they are

teachers without ability to instruct; they are sowers, and

have no seed in their basket. Nothing is more cheering in the

deserts of the east than to meet with a well of water; and nothing

more distressing, when parched with thirst, than to meet with a

well that contains no water.

Clouds that are carried with a tempest] In a time of great

drought, to see clouds beginning to cover the face of the heavens

raises the expectation of rain; but to see these carried off by a

sudden tempest is a dreary disappointment. These false teachers

were equally as unprofitable as the empty well, or the light,

dissipated cloud.

To whom the mist of darkness is reserved] That is, an eternal

separation from the presence of God, and the glory of his power.

They shall be thrust into outer darkness, Mt 8:12; into the

utmost degrees of misery and despair. False and corrupt teachers

will be sent into the lowest hell; and be "the most downcast,

underfoot vassals of perdition."

It is scarcely necessary to notice a various reading here,

which, though very different in sound, is nearly the same in

sense. Instead of νεφελαι, clouds, which is the common reading,

καιομιχλαι, and mists, or perhaps more properly thick darkness,

from ομου, together, and αχλυς, darkness, is the reading in

ABC, sixteen others, Erpen's Arabic, later Syriac, Coptic,

AEthiopic, and Vulgate, and several of the fathers. This reading

Griesbach has admitted into the text.

Verse 18. They speak great swelling words of vanity] The word

υπερογκα signifies things of great magnitude, grand, superb,

sublime; it sometimes signifies inflated, tumid, bombastic. These

false teachers spoke of great and high things, and no doubt

promised their disciples the greatest privileges, as they

themselves pretended to a high degree of illumination; but they

were all false and vain, though they tickled the fancy and excited

the desires of the flesh; and indeed this appears to have been

their object. And hence some think that the impure sect of the

Nicolaitans is meant. See the preface.

Those that were clean escaped] Those who, through hearing the

doctrines of the Gospel, had been converted, were perverted by

those false teachers.

Verse 19. While they promise them liberty] Either to live in

the highest degrees of spiritual good, or a freedom from the Roman

yoke; or from the yoke of the law, or what they might term

needless restraints. Their own conduct showed the falsity of

their system; for they were slaves to every disgraceful lust.

For of whom a man is overcome] This is an allusion to the

ancient custom of selling for slaves those whom they had conquered

and captivated in war. The ancient law was, that a man might

either kill him whom he overcame in battle, or keep him for a

slave. These were called servi, slaves, from the verb servare, to

keep or preserve. And they were also called mancipia, from

manu capiuntur, they are taken captive by the hand of their enemy.

Thus the person who is overcome by his lusts is represented as

being the slave of those lusts. See Ro 6:16, and the note there.

Verse 20. The pollutions of the world] Sin in general, and

particularly superstition, idolatry, and lasciviousness. These

are called μιασματα, miasmata, things that infect, pollute, and

defile. The word was anciently used, and is in use at the present

day, to express those noxious particles of effluvia proceeding

from persons infected with contagious and dangerous diseases; or

from dead and corrupt bodies, stagnant and putrid waters, marshes

&c., by which the sound and healthy may be infected and destroyed.

The world is here represented as one large, putrid marsh, or

corrupt body, sending off its destructive miasmata everywhere and

in every direction, so that none can escape its contagion, and

none can be healed of the great epidemic disease of sin, but by

the mighty power and skill of God. St. Augustine has improved on

this image: "The whole world," says he, "is one great diseased

man, lying extended from east to west, and from north to south;

and to heal this great sick man, the almighty Physician descended

from heaven." Now, it is by the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour

Jesus Christ, as says St. Peter, that we escape the destructive

influence of these contagious miasmata. But if, after having been

healed, and escaped the death to which we were exposed, we get

again entangled, εμπλακεντες, enfolded, enveloped with them; then

the latter end will be worse than the beginning: forasmuch as we

shall have sinned against more light, and the soul, by its

conversion to God, having had all its powers and faculties greatly

improved, is now, being repolluted, more capable of iniquity than

before, and can bear more expressively the image of the earthly.

Verse 21. For it had been better for them not to have known]

For the reasons assigned above; because they have sinned against

more mercy, are capable of more sin, and are liable to greater

punishment.

The holy commandment] The whole religion of Christ is

contained in this one commandment, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy

God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and

with all thy strength; and thy neighbour as thyself." He who

obeys this great commandment, and this by the grace of Christ is

possible to every man, is saved from sinning either against his

God or against his neighbour. Nothing less than this does the

religion of Christ require.

Verse 22. According to the true proverb] This seems to be a

reference to Pr 26:11:

kekeleb shab al keo; as the dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool

repeateth his folly. In substance this proverb is found among

the rabbins; so Midrash Ruth, in Sohar Chadash, fol. 62: Orphah is

returned to her mire, Ruth persevered in spirit; and again, Ibid.

fol. 64: "Orphah, which is nephesh habbehemith, the

bestial soul, is returned to her mire."

The Greeks have something like it; so Arrian, Dissert. Epict.

l. iv. c. 11, says: απελθεκαιχοιρωδιαλεγουινενβορβορωμη

κυλιηται, "Go and reason with the swine, lest he be rolled in the

mire." This is called a true proverb: for it is a fact that a dog

will eat up his own vomit; and the swine, howsoever carefully

washed, will again wallow in the mire. As applied here it is very

expressive: the poor sinner, having heard the Gospel of Christ,

was led to loathe and reject his sin; and, on his application to

God for mercy, was washed from his unrighteousness. But he is

here represented as taking up again what he had before rejected,

and defiling himself in that from which he had been cleansed.

Here is a sad proof of the possibility of falling from grace,

and from very high degrees of it too. These had escaped from the

contagion that was in the world; they had had true repentance, and

cast up "their soursweet morsel of sin;" they had been washed from

all their filthiness, and this must have been through the blood of

the Lamb; yet, after all, they went back, got entangled with their

old sins, swallowed down their formerly rejected lusts, and

rewallowed in the mire of corruption. It is no wonder that God

should say, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning:

reason and nature say it must be so; and Divine justice says it

ought to be so; and the person himself must confess that it is

right that it should be so. But how dreadful is this state! How

dangerous when the person has abandoned himself to his old sins!

Yet it is not said that it is impossible for him to return to his

Maker; though his case be deplorable, it is not utterly hopeless;

the leper may yet be made clean, and the dead may be raised.

Reader, is thy backsliding a grief and burden to thee? Then thou

art not far from the kingdom of God; believe on the Lord Jesus,

and thou shalt be saved.

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