Who can bring a clean [thing] out of an clean?
&c.] Either produce a clean person from an unclean one: it is not to be expected that one, perfectly free from sin, should be generated by, or brought out of, one that is defiled with it; which is the case of all men; the first man, though made upright, sinned, and by sinning defiled himself, and all human nature in him: and so those that immediately descended from him were polluted likewise, and so on in all generations, every man being conceived and shaped in iniquity; so that it is not possible that man that is born of a woman, sinful and unclean, should be clean himself, or be free from sin; by which it is manifest, that the sinfulness of human nature is unavoidable; it is natural and necessary, and cannot be otherwise, such being the case and circumstances of immediate parents, from whom men descend; and that this is the case of all men that come into the world by ordinary and natural generation; there is none righteous or pure from sin: no,
and things being so, Job thought it hard that he should be singled out, and so severely chastised, when the sinfulness of nature was from and by his birth, and was natural and unavoidable, and when there was not a single person on earth free from it. There never was but one instance of one clean being brought out of an unclean person, and that was our Lord Jesus Christ of the Virgin Mary; which was not in the ordinary way of generation, but by a supernatural and extraordinary production of his human nature, through the power of the Holy Ghost, whereby it escaped the original contagion and pollution of mankind: or else, in consequence of this, the sense is, who can bring forth or produce a good work from an impure person? or how can it be expected that a man that is defiled with sin should do a good work perfectly pure? for there is not even a just and good man that doth good and sinneth not; and much less is it to be looked for, that men in a mere state of nature, that are as they come into the world, sinful and impure, should ever be able to perform good works; it may as well be thought that grapes are to be gathered of thorns, or figs of thistles; men must be born again, created in Christ Jesus, have faith in him, and the Spirit of God in them, before they can do that which is truly good from right principles, and with right views; and man at most and best must be an imperfect creature, and deficient in his duty, and cannot bear to be strictly examined, and rigorously prosecuted: or the meaning is, "who can make" F7 an unclean man a clean one? "no, not one"; a man cannot make himself clean by anything he can do, by his repentance and humiliation, by his good works, duties, and services; none can do this but God; and to this sense some render the words, "who can--is there one" F8? there is, that is, God, he can do it, and he only: though men are exhorted to cleanse themselves, this does not suppose a power in them to do it; this is only designed to convince them of the necessity of being cleansed, and to awaken a concern for it; and such as are made sensible thereof will apply to God to purge them, and make them clean, and create a clean heart within them: and this God has promised to do, and does do; he sprinkles the clean water of his grace, and purifies the heart by faith in the blood of Jesus, which cleanses from all sin, and is the fountain opened to wash in for sin and uncleanness; the Targum is,
``who can give a clean thing out of a man that is defiled with sins, except God who is one, and can forgive him?''none can pardon sin but God, or justify a sinner besides him; and he can do both in a way of justice, upon the foot of the blood and righteousness of Christ.
F7 (Nty ym) "quis potest facere?" V. L. "dabit", i.e. "faciet", Vatablus; "sistet aut efficiet", Michaelis; "quis efficiet?" Cocceius.
F8 (dxa al) "nonne tu qui solus est?" V. L. "annon unus?" sc. Mediator, Cocceius.