November 21, 2009

Jean Daillé (1594–1670) on the Greatness of Man's Corruption in Rejecting God

I acknowledge that this is properly the crime, first, of those who reject the gospel of the Son of God, the true word brought in by the Holy Spirit; and, secondly, of them that, living under the Mosaic covenant, rebelled against the word of God preached to them by Moses and the prophets. But I affirm, that even they are not exempt from it, who have sinned, or do sin, in the darkness of paganism. For though these people do not reject the word either of the gospel or the law, neither of which is addressed to them; yet they cannot be excused of contemning that other voice of God, which makes itself heard from heaven throughout all the earth, and sounds secretly in every man's heart, and privily calls them to repentance for their sins, to piety, honesty, justice, and rectitude. They profanely reject this sacred declaration of the Deity, without which God never left a man among the nations, no, not the most forlorn, or most desperately plunged in idolatry and viciousness, as the apostle teaches us in the Acts. They despise those admirable directions he gives them in the governing of the world, to seek him, feel him, and find him, Acts xiv. 17; xvii. 26, 27. They make light of the evidences he offers them in his administration of the universe of his eternal power and Godhead; and finally, abuse the riches of his mercy, of his patience, and of his long-suffering, by which his goodness invites and solicits all men to repentance, Rom. i. 20; ii. 4. Hence how astonishing, not only the justice, but even the gentleness and benignity, of God, who having right to punish men upon the first sin of which they are found guilty, yet does it not; but calls and invites them to repentance, and waits for them, and causes not his wrath to fall upon them, till, to the crime of their sin, they have added that of rebellion against the second way of salvation, which in his loving-kindness offers them; namely, the way of repentance. For that which the apostle says here of fornicators, and the avaricious in particular, is true of all vices in general; the wrath of Heaven cometh not upon them who are guilty, but when by their unbelief and obduracy they have made themselves children of rebellion; and there is not a sinner in the world, how great and enormous soever his crimes may be, but this good and all-merciful Majesty receives most readily to mercy, provided only he repent; according to the prophet's saying, that God willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he be converted and live, Ezek. xxxiii. 11; so that henceforth it is not simply sin that condemns men, but impenitence and unbelief. And the goodness of God so much the more gloriously appears in this his procedure towards them, for, that he might have the liberty of treating thus with them, he bought it (if I may so speak) at the price of the blood of his only Son, whom he (such is the goodness to us) delivered up to the death of the cross, to preserve the interests of his justice, which opposed this way of mercy which he determined to open unto men after their falling into sin. But this very thing shows us, on the other hand, how great the corruption of men is, and how untractable the furiousness of the passion they have for vice, in that, not content to be debauched from the service of their Sovereign, (which is of itself a horrible crime, and worthy of a thousand penalties,) they are so desperately in love with sin, that, to continue in it, they despise, and even reject, with an enraged insolence, all this holy and sacred mystery of the kindness of God, and are so enchanted and bestialized by the poisons of sin, that they prefer its short, vain, and wretched pleasures before Divine grace and salvation, and less dread the wrath of their Sovereign, the society of devils, and the torments of hell, than the loss of that unworthy and shameful delight which the practice of sin, and the fulfilling of its lusts, gives them for a few days.
Jean Daillé, An Exposition of The Epistle of Saint Paul to the Colossians, trans. James Sherman (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1843), 182. The Google books link includes his exposition of Philippians (in the first part) as well as the exposition on Colossians (in the second part).

For more by Daillé on the death of Christ, click here.

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