Ver. 43-45. The speech appeareth parabolical, the persons concerned in it are expressed in the last words, the men of that wicked generation. The text is thought to be well expounded by Peter, 2Pe_2:20, If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. Our Lord here compares the Jews to a man out of whom the unclean spirit was gone. The devil is called the unclean spirit, both in regard of his own impure nature, and because his work is to tempt men to sin, which is spiritual filthiness. The Jews were a people holy to the Lord, a people distinguished from pagans by a visible profession; so as the devil in a great measure had left them. Now, saith he, the devil is an unquiet spirit, and findeth no rest if he cannot be doing mischief to men. For the phrase, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, we must know, that in parabolical speeches we must not make a severe scrutiny upon every phrase. Dry places are for the most part places least inhabited, for want of the conveniences of water. The devil cannot be at rest where he hath no mischief to do to men.
Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out: the devil so leaveth none, but he will be attempting to come into them again; and he ordinarily succeeds where Christ hath not prepossessed the soul: all other reformation proves but a sweeping and a garnishing, while the soul is empty of Christ. It may be swept from the filth of flagitious sins, and garnished with the paint of religion, or some habits of moral virtue; but none of these will keep out the devil.
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there.Seven, that is, many. The meaning is, he makes that man much worse than before. So (saith he) it shall be to these Jews. God gave them his laws, and so delivered them from such a dominion as the devil doth exercise over pagans. In force of this law, the scribes and Pharisees amended many things, so as they were like a house swept and garnished. God sent his Son to dwell amongst them, but him they rejected; so the house was empty, though swept and garnished. The devil will come again, and they will be ten times worse.