Covington, GA., Sept.15, 1860.
“Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”
Being requested to give our views of this Scripture, we will state in the first place that as National Israel, under the National Covenant, was finally rejected of God, yet great were the blessings and promises of God toward his New Covenant people, the spiritual Israel of God, as expressed in the text, and in the preceding and subsequent verses. The blessings of the New Covenant are wholly spiritual, yet figurative language is often used to express the nature of those blessings, and the bestowal of them upon the subjects thereof. The people that are made the recipients of those blessings are called by grace, as Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, and as the heirs of promise are taken from among the heathen, and gathered out of all countries, and are brought experimentally into their own land, which is the gospel church and kingdom, where Jesus gives his people rest. Then, at that time, will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean. This is what the Lord does, and not man. When he sprinkles clean water upon his people, they are made clean. It is water of life, the healing, cleansing, purifying fountain of living waters. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. To sprinkle, in our text, is to wash, to cleanse, to purify. The declaration is unconditional; the Lord says, “I will sprinkle clean water,” &c. Here is no sprinkling of infants, or adults, by the priest, or clergyman. No outward application of literal water, nor meats, nor drinks, nor divers washings and carnal ordinances, can purify the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. O no! The sprinkling of clean water, is synonymous in meaning with the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. As the application of clean water, literally, will cleanse the body, and as under the old dispensation, the blood of bulls, and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” The use of much soap and nitre. The works of men, and the creature avail nothing to cleanse sinners from their vileness and depravity. Truly, “the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint; from the sole of the foot, even unto the head, there is no soundness in it; but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” But the Lord hath said, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isa. 1:18. When the work of cleansing is performed by the sprinkling of clean water, or with the washing of water by the word, or in other words, by the blood of Christ, the justified sinner now saved, experimentally, can praise the Lord, and say, not unto me, but unto thy name, O Lord, belongs all the glory. This sprinkling of clean water, or the blood of Christ, is upon the sinner, or in other words, the sinner is the subject of it, and enjoys the blessedness which arises from it.
From all your filthiness and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. Not only in their first experience of the work of grace in their deliverance from wrath and condemnation, is the sprinkling of clean water, or the cleansing blood of Christ applied by the Holy Spirit, but in their after experience they learn much of their need of this cleansing from their filthiness and from their idols. Their language often is like one of old, “Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” Again, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” The old man, or sinful nature of the saints, is opposed to the holy, heavenly and spiritual life which is imparted to them, and of which they are born again. Though they have experienced the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, yet the flesh is full of filthiness, and in love with forbidden objects. But the spiritual, or new man never sins, is never contaminated with the filthiness of the flesh, nor in love with any of its idols. But in the practical walk, and course of conduct pursued, sometimes, by the saints, much learning and purification is necessary. The Lord Jesus sits as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. This work is going on, and will continue until the last vessel of mercy is experimentally called, justified, and glorified. The Lord Jesus is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap to purify and cleanse them from all their filthiness and idols. Therefore the work of purification and cleansing is in safe hands, under the control and government of Zion’s King. Blessed is the people, who can now in the present tense, abide the day of his coming, and can stand his appearance. Those who can abide his coming, and stand his appearance in the gospel church and kingdom now on earth, are the people whose offering is pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. They are the people who know the joyful sound, and who walk in the light of God’s countenance. He has given them a new heart, and has put a new spirit within them, and has taken away the stony heart out of their flesh, and given them a heart of flesh, or an obedient heart to do his will. He has put his Spirit within them, and has caused them to walk in his statutes, and to keep his judgments, and to do what he has commanded them. They dwell safely in the heavenly land, into which they have entered by faith, and God is their God, and they are his people. This is the people described by the prophet Zephaniah, “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth, for they shall feed, and lie down, and none shall make them afraid.”