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19But if you warn the wicked, and they do not turn from their wickedness, or from their wicked way, they shall die for their iniquity; but you will have saved your life.

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The Prophet is here taught how usefully he will lay out his labor, although he should appear to fail, for he ought to be satisfied with this alone, that God approves his efforts. Although, therefore, those who were to be brought back by holy exhortations remain obstinate, yet God’s servants ought not, through fastidiousness, to throw up their commission as if it were useless, for they free their own souls. It has been formerly said, that a necessity was imposed upon them, but if they are dumb dogs the destruction of souls will be imputed to them, but when they have executed their duty and satisfied the Almighty, ought not it to suffice them to be absolved in his opinion? We see then, that the Prophet was animated by this consolation, lest he should be weary of admonishing abandoned and obstinate men, because, if they were not profited by his teaching, yet its fruit should return to himself. That expression of Christ’s is well known, “Into whatsoever house ye enter, salute it: if the house be unworthy, your blessing shall return to yourselves.” (Matthew 10:12, 13; Luke 10:5, 6.) So also when the Prophets anxiously desired to reclaim the wandering sheep and to collect them within the fold, if they experienced such petulance that their labor did not profit them, yet their usefulness shall return to themselves. Now we understand the counsel of God in these words, Thou, therefore, hast freed thy soul. Here he does not put impiety only, but impious way, for the sake of explanation: unless any one had rather distinguish that impiety is the interior wickedness of the heart, but an impious way is the outward life and comprehends all actions, which is perhaps more probable, although there is no reason to object to add impious way as an explanation after the mention of impiety. Now it follows —