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and conscience is defiled.” And why is this ? because
I think, be received as having a literal signification: because there was a custom of putting on white garments upon days of rejoicing, and dark or black garments or sackcloth upon days of mourning, and especially among the people of the nation in the midst of whom Solomon wrote: so that, these "garments” and "oil" signify the circumstances of joy, both with respect to the food and the clothing. And thus also Christ saith, Matt. vi.“ But thou, when thou fastest, anoint
thy head and wash thy face :” that is, be of a glad and cheerful countenance.
Those, therefore, act most perniciously, who, professing themselves to be teachers illuminated by faith, deny that this faith is necessary at all times, and in every work: and they hatch up and frame out to us a general kind of faith sleeping in the habit, or rather a dead faith, which for the time elicits the act of believing. But what time will they define for this act? Is it only during the time of immediate exercise? But what a great folly possesses them, if they compare faith and its work with the use and nature of all other virtues? By this they would make it to be the case, that, because we cannot at all times pray, read, visit the sick, and help the weak; nay, because we cannot do any one work perpetually and continually, therefore, (as they think,) faith must be subject to the same change as the works, sometimes working or acting, and sometimes resting or doing nothing: not understanding, that under all the change and variety of works faith remains the same, believing and being confident in every work, that it pleases God, or rather, that he is pardoning and propitious.
It is an error, therefore, to put faith and its work upon a footing with the other virtues and works.
For this faith must be held as being exalted above all these things, and as being a sort of general and inaccessible influence above all works; by the moving and agency of which it is that all works which are done by man move, act, flourish, and please God. Thus Samuel, 1 Sam. x. 6, 4 And the Spirit of the Lord shall come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. When, therefore, all these signs are come unto thee, do whatsoever cometh into thy hands; for God is with thee.' So, in faith, all works are equal, howsoever they may present themselves unto us to be done: for faith alone is the work of all works. But wheresoever a difference of works is made, there either faith, is wanting, or else, the difference only appears to be such in the eyes of those who are ignorant in these matters. For when a man believes in God,
TO VICTORY: OF DAVID.
Ver. 1.--The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, and have become abominable in their doings : there is none that doeth good, no not one.
This is all one verse in the Hebrew, and the clause no not one,” is superadded in this place, because we have it once only, and that is at the end of the third
The Hebrew runs thus, . The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They have done corrupt and abominable doings: there is none that doeth good.? Here fool is put by the figure synecdoche, for the whole people, because it follows in the plural number " they."
This Psalm is taken out of Gen. vi. where it is said in similar words—that the earth was corrupt by the sons of men; and that the Lord looked down upon the children of men, and iniquity, or badness, (which in the Hebrew is HAMAS; that is, injury, violence, and oppression,) had prevailed. Here David says, that the people were “devoured :” and hence the series of history, contained Gen. vi. will beautifully illustrate this Psalm : because it either describes the prevailing of the generation of the ungodly by a like corruption, or foretels that it shall thus prevail: for such a generation always exists, though it may rage and prevail more at one time than at another.
David, therefore, is not speaking at all about the persecution of the godly nor about false teachers; but the intent and scope of the Psalm are to describe and set forth the manners and the life of sinners, or of the corrupt generation.—That all men are sinners and evil who are destitute of, and act without, grace: for such live only in pride, lust, rapine, fraud, murder and the like; though such strive always to colour over these things, or neglect to observe them. And it is to this same point that Paul quotes the Psalm, Rom, iii,
Here the first evil, which is the fountain-spring of all the other evils, is, ignorance of God: for he that sins against the first commandment must transgress every one of the others. And as all the commandments hang and depend upon the first, and are from it regulated and formed, so there is no one that is violated in more ways nor by more men than the first commandment. And we may easily see how very few good men there are among the sons of men, and that there is none that doeth good. For although all may not commit adultery and murder in the act, nor satisfy lust in the act, yet all sin the same sin of unbelief against the first commandment: and, when opportunity is given, they satisfy lust, kill, and commit every evil. And therefore, every son of Adam is this Nabal that is, this “fool" and idolater, being ignorant of God; as it is here said.
But we are not here to understand that such know nothing whatever of God: for Paul teaches, Rom. i. that the name of God is manifestly known by all :' for if there had not been an inextinguishable knowledge of the divinity implanted in the minds of all men, idolatry would never have been found. For why did they worship idols, but because they all had a persuasion that there was some God? Why did they ascribe divinity to men and to devils, and thus turn the truth of God into a lie, if they did not believe and know that there was a divinity or God? Or why did they presume to worship those men and devils, if they did not ascribe to them some existing divinity? They knew therefore that there was a God or divinity. But they erred in this :--They turned the truth of God into a lie; and, on the other hand, a lie into the truth of God. That is, that which was truly God they ascribed unto man, or to the creature; and, on the contrary, that which was not God, or a lie, they ascribed unto God. This they did then, and this they still do, who, not understanding the work and Word of God, blaspheme them and ascribe them to devils. And their own devices, whether it be their words or their works, and even suggested by the devils, they ascribe unto God: and this is the most frequent of all evils.
For those who are described Gen. vi. are not represented as being so ignorant of God that they knew nothing of him, for Noah a preacher of righteousness preached God unto them. But
, said God, “ My spirit shall not remain in these men for ever, because they are flesh:” or, as the Hebrew has it, ' My spirit shall not always judge or strive in these men;' that is, he has not his operation in them, because they reject the crucifixion of the flesh, and therefore they will not endure the judgment of my spirit. By which words, whether spoken through Noah, or (which I the rather believe) through others also, God designed the same thing as that which is spoken in this Psalm:--namely, he publicly and openly declares that such are flesh, and without, and destitute of, the Spirit: that is, abominable and corrupt, not one of them doing good, no, not one.
David therefore, here speaking in the Spirit, and easily searching into their thoughts, and their reins, and heart, says, that this Nabal denies God, not in word, nor in gesture, nor in external pomp, (wherein he boasts that he knows God even better than those who truly love him,) but in his heart: that is, in his inward thoughts and feelings : which darkness is immediately followed by a darkness of mind, which prevents him either from thinking, speaking, or acting rightly concerning God: as it is said Psalm xí. and Paul to Titus, chap. i.
They say that they know God, but in works deny him.” They therefore alone have God, who believe in God by a faith unfeigned. All others are fools, and say in their heart “ There is no God.”
The other evil, (that is, the great river or flood, rather, of evils,) which proceeds and flows out of this fountain of unbelief, is all their doings ; (that is, whatever they think, are wise about, savour, say, do, establish, or act in any way ;) all these are corrupt and abominable. As if he had said with Paul, Tit. i. 15, “ Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” And thus he briefly in one word declares and sets forth the life of the unbelieving: as it is written also, Rom. xiv. “What