If thou, O God! should mark iniquities …Should God determine to deal with us according to the strict demands of his law, and to summon us before his tribunal, not one of the whole human race would be able to stand… “All the children of Adam,” he [essentially] says, “from the first to the last, are lost and condemned, should God require them to render up an account of their life.” …Further, …since no man can stand by his own works, all such as are accounted righteous before God, are righteous in consequence of the pardon and remission of their sins. In no other manner can any man be righteous in the sight of God.
But with thee there is forgiveness. …How few are persuaded of the truth …that the [unmerited favor which they] need shall [be given to] them? …The consequence of this [lack] of hope [within] men …is an indifference about coming into the Divine presence to [ask] for pardon.
When a man is awakened with a lively sense of the judgment of God, he cannot fail to be humbled with shame and fear. Such self-dissatisfaction would not however suffice, unless at the same time there were added faith, whose office it is to raise up the hearts which were cast down with fear, and to encourage them to pray for forgiveness…
“As soon as I think upon You,” [the psalmist] says in [effect], “Your clemency also presents itself to my mind, so that I have no doubt that You will be merciful to me, it being impossible for You to divest Yourself of Your own nature: the very fact that You are God is to me a sure guarantee that You will be merciful ” [This unmerited favor] of God… enables the sinner to conclude with certainty, that as soon as he seeks God he shall find him ready to be reconciled towards him. …The first step to the right serving of God unquestionably is, to submit ourselves to Him willingly and with a free heart.
What does God say of the forgiven Man?
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
But thou, why dost thou, etc. …It is an unreasonable boldness in any one to assume the power to judge his brother, since by taking such a liberty he robs Christ the Lord of the power which He alone has received from the Father.
As I live, etc. …All flesh ought to be humbled while expecting that judgment; and this is expressed by the bending of the knee. …This prophecy …is far from being completed and will not be so until the day of the last resurrection shall shine forth, when Christ’s enemies shall be laid prostrate, that they may become his footstool. But this cannot be except the Lord shall …ascend his tribunal to judge the living and the dead; for all judgment in heaven and on earth has been given to Him by the Father.
Every tongue shall swear to me. As an oath [this] is a kind of divine worship. …All men should not only acknowledge his majesty, but also make a confession of obedience, both by the mouth and by the external gesture of the body, which he has designated by the bowing of the knee.
Every one of us, etc. This conclusion invites us to humility and lowliness of mind: and hence he immediately draws this inference, — that we are not to judge one another; for it is not lawful for us to usurp the office of judging, who must ourselves submit to be judged and to give an account.
What, then, should be our response to this impending Judgment?
The fool hath said …However much the world applauds these crafty and scoffing characters, who allow themselves to indulge to any extent in wickedness, yet the Holy Spirit condemns them as being fools; for there is no stupidity more brutish than forgetfulness of God. …They have overthrown all order, so that they no longer make any distinction between right and wrong, and have no regard for honesty, nor love of humanity…
They speak in their heart. …They may not plainly deny the existence of a God, but they imagine him to be shut up in heaven and divested of his righteousness and power; …When God is dragged from his throne, and divested of his character as judge, impiety has come to its utmost height; and, therefore, we must conclude that …those who give themselves liberty to commit all manner of wickedness, in the flattering hope of escaping with impunity, deny in their heart that there is a God…
Jehovah looked down from heaven. …Would to God that this manner of speaking had the effect of teaching us to summon ourselves before his [judgment seat]; and that, while the world are flattering themselves, and the reprobate are trying to bury their sins in forgetfulness by their want of thought, hypocrisy, or shamelessness, and are blinded in their obstinacy as if they were intoxicated, we might be led to shake off all indifference and stupidity by reflecting on this truth, that God, notwithstanding, looks down from his high throne in heaven, and beholds what is going on here below!
To see if there were any that did understand …The commencement of integrity and uprightness of life consists in an enlightened and sound mind. But …the greater part [of humanity] misapply their intellectual powers to deceitful purposes. …True understanding …consists in seeking after God. …Unless men devote themselves wholly to God, their life cannot be well ordered. …The reprobate are utterly destitute of all reason and judgment.
Every one of them has gone aside. …All men are so carried away by their capricious lusts, that nothing is to be found either of purity or integrity in their whole life. This, therefore, is defection so complete, that it extinguishes all godliness. …All of us, when we are born, bring with us from our mother’s womb this folly and filthiness manifested in the whole life …and we continue such until God makes us new creatures by his mysterious [unmerited favor].