26. When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he has done shall he die.
26. Si aversus fuerit justus a justitia sua, et fecerit iniquitatem et mortuus fuerit in illis,1 in iniquitate sua quam patravit morietur.
27. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he has committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.
27. Et si conversus fuerit sceleratus a sceleribus suis quae fecit, et fecerit judicium et justitiam, ipse animam suam vivificabit.2
28. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
28. Et viderit, et conversus fuerit ab omnibus sceleribus quae patravit, vivendo vivet, non morietur.
The Prophet repeats what we formerly saw, namely, that the state of the case turned upon this, Whether the people had any cause of complaint when God absolves those who repent, and condemns the just who desert the course of a pious and holy life? Now, we must always return to this cardinal point, that God rewards every one according to his works, since he offers mercy to all the lost, and demands nothing else but a sincere and hearty return to him. Since, then, God treats the impious with such clemency, and is so ready to pardon them, what is the reason why men contend with him? If the just should retrace his steps, and after having shown some signs of the fear of God, throw off all obedience, who can object when God punishes him, and blots out the remembrance of his former righteousness? God, therefore, determines the result fairly in each case. We have explained how the phrase, the just should turn aside from their righteousness, ought to be understood, not that the elect ever utterly fall away, as many think their faith is extinguished, and every root of piety also in the sons of God; that is too absurd, because, as I have said, the gift of regeneration has perseverance always annexed to it: but here that righteousness which mankind recognize is intended. But we know how frequently it happens that what seemed entirely pure and perfect is deficient. Now, God pronounces that he would punish all who fall away from him, and would be accessible and propitious to miserable sinners who desire to be reconciled to him; and he repeats again, if the wicked have seen and turned away from his wickedness. We must mark this phrase, for it shows that thinking rightly is the commencement of repentance; because, though the reprobate knowingly and willingly transgress God's law, it is certain that they labor under blindness and madness, so that the Scripture does not call them foolish and beside themselves in vain. He does not extenuate their faults, as if they sinned ignorantly; but he means that they were so blinded by diabolical madness as to think of nothing; for surely horror would immediately possess their minds if they only perceived God to be their adversary, and themselves to be making war with him. For this reason, therefore, when the Prophet describes to us the conversion of the wicked, he says, if he has seen; that is, if at length he has returned to a sound mind, and collected his senses, so that he may not rush on madly, as he has been accustomed to do, but may look upon both God and himself. It now follows --
1 The number is changed from singular to plural, "in his wickedness." -- Calvin.
2 That is, "he shall snatch from death, or restore to life." -- Calvin.
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