He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous…
He which is filthy, let him be filthy still. Detaching these words from the context, they suggest the dawning of a crisis in human history when moral character becomes unalterable. Notice -
I. THAT THE MORAL CHARACTER OF MAN SOMETIMES BECOMES UNALTERABLE BEFORE DEATH. There is reason to believe that this crisis occurs in this world. We find in the Bible, for example, such expressions as, "My Spirit shall not always strive with man;" "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone;" "If thou hadst known... the things that belonged to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes;" of men having their conscience "seared with a hot iron;" of souls being "twice dead, and plucked up by the roots." If these passages mean anything, they mean that in this life a corrupt character may become unalterable. The alteration of character requires deep thought and earnest resolve. It requires effort of the most strenuous and determined kind.
II. THAT IF IT IS NOT ALTERED BEFORE DEATH, IT IS NOT LIKELY TO BE ALTERED AT DEATH. There is no opportunity afforded at death for such a work as this. The character that has been built up by a lifetime cannot be altered in a few hours or days at most, and that in most cases amidst physical agony and moral forebodings. True, death does effect great changes in men. The greatest change is the breaking up of the bodily organization, reducing it to its primitive elements; but there is no power in this to alter character. There is no tendency in bodily changes to effect a positive reformation. Such changes in the body are constantly going on here. Once in every seven years every man receives a new body, and. yet the moral character remains unaltered. Wrong moral principles and habits do not pass away from us as the particles of our body depart day after day, and year after year. Death, therefore, seems to us powerless to effect any change in moral character.
III. THAT IF IT IS NOT ALTERED BEFORE DEATH, IT IS NOT LIKELY TO BE ALTERED AFTER DEATH.
1. A change in moral character can only be effected by the force of moral truth. Truth alone can expel errors, and generate true motives and impulses of action.
2. We cannot conceive of moral truth in a mightier form than we have it here. Truth in example is truth in its mightiest form, and the gospel is truth in the highest example; hence it is "the power of God unto salvation." Christ says, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets," etc.
3. The longer the force of truth is resisted, the less likely is it to succeed. If truth does not succeed with souls who come into the world free from all prejudices and tenderly susceptible of impressions, its probability of success in this life, we know, weakens as habits are formed and the heart grows harder. Supposing that a soul who has passed unrenovated through all the influences of moral truth in this life enters eternity, and comes under a system of truth even as powerful as the one that has worked on him here, its chances of failure on him are perhaps greater there than here. Now is the time for moral reformation. Earth is the scene for regenerating corrupt souls. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.