Micah 7:19

Micah 7:19

He will turn again
From his anger, and show his face and favour; which is not inconsistent with his everlasting and unchangeable love; for anger is not opposite to love, and is only a displicency at sin, and not at the persons of his people; and, properly speaking, is not in God; is rather in appearance than in reality; when his people sin against him, he shows himself as if he was angry; he turns away from them, and withdraws his gracious presence and sensible communion from them; but when they are brought to a sense of sin, and acknowledgment of it, he returns to them, manifests his love to them again, and applies his pardoning grace, which is the thing believed would be done; it is only another expression of that, as all the rest that follow are: the prophet, or the church, dwells on this article of grace, and heaps up words to express it by, as if they could never say too much or it, or sufficiently explain it. The Targum is,

``his word shall return;''
he will have compassion upon us;
the Lord is naturally compassionate; he is full of compassion, he has a heart of compassion; these are tender mercies, and never fail, and which are exercised in a sovereign way; pardon of sin flows from hence; every manifestation or it is a display thereof: sin brings afflictions on the saints, and then the Lord pities them, and is afflicted with them; sin grieves them, and he is as it were grieved for them; it wounds them, and then, as the good and compassionate Samaritan, he pours in the oil and wine of pardoning grace, and heals them; they are, while in this state, in such circumstances often as need his compassion, and they may be assured of it, ( Psalms 78:38 ) ; he will subdue our iniquities;
which maybe understood also as a further explanation of the grace of pardon: sin is an enemy to God and his people; it is too strong and mighty for them; it reigns over them in a state of nature; they are under the power of it, and cannot get rid of it, its influence, guilt, and punishment; Christ has conquered it, made an end of it, and took it away; God tramples upon it, as a conqueror does upon the necks of his enemies; it ii subdued by him, and is under his feet; which he treats with contempt, disdains to look upon, keeps it under, so that it shall never rise again to the condemnation of his people; he overcomes the provocation of it, removes the guilt by pardon, and secures from the punishment of it: or this may be considered as the effect of pardon; as what is done in consequence of it, by the Spirit and grace of God in sanctification; when not only the deeds of the body are mortified through the Spirit, or the outward conversation reformed, but the inward power of sin is weakened; it is laid under the restraints of efficacious grace, and is kept under by it; so that it shall not and cannot have the dominion over the saints again, of which they may be confident, ( Romans 6:14 ) ; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea;
never to be seen any more; though they are seen with the eye of omniscience, and taken notice of by the eye of providence, yet not beheld with the eye of avenging justice, that being satisfied by Christ; besides, all the sins of God's people have been removed from them to Christ, and by him carried away into the land of oblivion; so that they are no more to be seen on them, who are through his blood and righteousness without fault, spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; and, being out of sight, they are out of mind, never remembered any more, and like things cast into the sea, destroyed and lost: perhaps there may be some allusion to the Egyptians drowned in the Red sea; and what is cast into the sea, especially into the depths of it, is irrecoverable, not to be fetched up again, nor does it rise more; and so it is with the sins of God's people, forgiven for Christ's sake, even "all" of them; for they have all been bore by Christ, and are covered, blotted out, and pardoned, not one remains unforgiven; see ( Isaiah 38:17 ) . This is an apostrophe of the prophet unto God. The Targum is,
``and he will cast into the depths of the sea all the sins of Israel;''
and it may denote their being loathsome and abominable to him, and therefore here cast by him. It is very common in Jewish writings to say of anything that is useless, abominable, accursed, and utterly rejected, that it is to be east into the salt sea. For instance
``Aquila the proselyte divided an inheritance with his brother (a Gentile), and he cast the profit of it into the salt sea: three doctors there were; one said, the price of the idol he cast into the salt sea; another said, he cast the price of his part of the idol into the salt sea; and the other said, he cast the idol itself into the salt sea F21.''
Again it is said F23,
``a sin offering, whose owner is dead, goes into the salt sea.''
The Heathens used sea water for the purgation and expiation of sin; hence the poet F24, to aggravate the wickedness of a very wicked man, observes, that the ocean itself could not wash away his sins. And Cicero F25, speaking of the law of the Romans for the punishment of parricides, which ordered that they should be sewed up alive in sacks, and cast into the river, observes the wisdom and propriety of it; they would not, says he, have them cast naked into the river, lest, when they should be carried into the sea, they should pollute that by which other things that are defiled are thought to be expiated. So Iphigenia is made to say F26 that the sea washes away all the sins of men. These are the Jewish and Heathenish notions; whether there is any allusion to them may be considered; however, certain it is, that nothing short of the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, or the sea of Christ's blood, can wash away sin; that cleanses from all sin; and happy are they whose sins are cast in thither, or are expiated and purged away thereby!
FOOTNOTES:

F21 T. Hieros. Demai, fol. 25. 4.
F23 Ibid. Sotah, fol. 19. 1. Vid. ibid. Avoda Zara, fol. 39. 2. & Nazir, fol. 53. 1.
F24 "Suscipit, O Gelli, quantum non ultima Thetis, Nec genitor lympharum abluit Oceanus". Catullus.
F25 Oratio 2. pro Sexto Roscio.
F26 Euripides in Tauro.
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