He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the
That absolves and clears the guilty, and pronounces him righteous in open court, where he stands arraigned, accused, and the fact proved; and that adjudges an innocent man to condemnation; or passes the sentence of it upon him, when it is a clear case he is not guilty; even they both [are] abomination to the Lord:
being contrary to law and justice, to the declared will of God, and the orders and instructions given by him to judges, ( Deuteronomy 25:1 ) ; such an abominable action were the Jews guilty of in desiring Barabbas, a wicked man, to be released, and Christ, the just One, to be condemned; and Pilate in complying with them. From this passage we learn, that the word "justify" is used in a forensic sense, for pronouncing persons just in a court of judicature; and in which sense it is used in the article of a sinner's justification before God: by which act, though it is an ungodly person that is justified, yet it is through the perfect righteousness of Christ imputed to him, and is quite agreeable to law and the justice of God; and not at all inconsistent with this passage, which represents the justification of a wicked man as an abomination: it is so where there is no righteousness, but not where there is; agreeably to which is the saying of an Heathen F18 poet,
``it is not righteous, neither rashly to condemn bad men good, nor good men bad.''