« PreviousContinue »
crowd, following him. From what she heard him preach, she felt that he was just the Friend she needed. She was fully persuaded that he was willing to save her: for it was at that very moment that Jesus had said, " Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden; and I will give you rest." She therefore ventured into the Pharisee's house, to be near Christ.
She came behind him as he sat at meat, "and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment."
The Pharisee, who saw what kind of woman she had been, but did not know of her change of heart, was shocked; and he began to doubt whether Christ knew her character, and whether he was a prophet. "Simon spake within himself: This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner."
Christ will show the Pharisee that he is a prophet indeed; yea, a God, knowing the most secret thoughts. He therefore begins answering the Pharisee, by asking him a question.
He puts the case of a man, having two debtors; one owing him fifty, the other five hundred, pence; but, "forasmuch as they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both." Which of them, says
Christ, will love him most?
Simon could not help answering, "I suppose that he to whom he forgave most." Jesus saith
unto him, "Thou hast rightly judged." And now he begins to apply the two cases, to the self-righteous Pharisee, and to this weeping penitent.
Both of them had, in reality, innumerable sins to be forgiven. But the Pharisee did not feel this; and therefore thought his debt to mercy a very small one. The woman felt her sins almost too great to be forgiven; and therefore, when she found Christ ready to forgive every one of her sins, she she did not know how to express the abundance of her overflowing love to him.
The Pharisee had invited Christ, not from politeness, but from curiosity. He had showed him no marks of respect. He had given him no water for his feet, no ointment for his head. The woman had washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. She had not ceased to kiss his feet, and had anointed them with ointment.
The Pharisee supposes that the touch of this woman will defile Christ. He did not know that Christ was without sin, "holy, harmless, separate from sinners." Her touch could do him no harm; while purifying grace flowed from his sacred body, which she touched in faith.
But what encouraged this sinful woman, so brokenhearted and penitent?-It was Hope, springing up. She had heard the Saviour assuring sinners, that there was mercy for them. If she had been without hope, she would have been hardened, not softened. The thought of all her sinfulness would have thrown her into despair; and she would have gone on sin
ning more and more. She would have said, "There is no hope; no: for I have loved pleasures, and after them will I go." But when she finds that she may be saved, she wishes to be saved. The grace of Christ wins the most desperate sinners, softens the hardest, and cleanses the vilest.
Jesus pronounces her pardon, to the amazement of all present. He ascribes her salvation to her faith-Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace."
What an altered character would she now become! Her tears are followed by a quiet conscience. Her eyes no more wander. Her affections are no more disordered. They are calm, and holy; fixed on Christ, and his service. She no more increases the transgressors among men; but tells her former companions in sin, what a dear Saviour she has found.
Oh, the depth of the Saviour's love! Oh, may all his ministers and servants invite lost sinners, as He did! And let the loving-kindness of Jesus the Saviour be made known, in every city-in every street and alley-in every abode of sin, disease, and sorrow!
O our God, how ought we to blush and be confounded, when we remember the vileness of our hearts, and the innumerable transgressions of our lives; all which thy pure and holy eyes have seen from the beginning! Well may we wonder that we have been so often spared; and that we were not
long since shut up in hell, without any hope of thy pity.
But Thou hast set before us an open door of mercy, by which the vilest may enter, and come before thee, pleading the most precious bloodshedding of thy dear Son, Jesus Christ. Yea, thou hast prepared for us a spotless robe of righteousness, which is unto all, and upon all them that believe in Him. O grant to us, the most unworthy of thy creatures, faith in this Divine Redeemer, that by Him our souls may be washed, justified, and sanctified! Remember not against us the sins of our youth, or the transgressions of riper years; but, according to thy mercy, think thou upon us, for thy goodness' sake, O Lord!
O do thou break the cruel yoke of Satan; and by thy Spirit enable us to shake it off from us, that we may henceforth no more serve sin! Let every member of our body, and every affection of our soul, be sanctified; and may they all be made instruments of righteousness unto God! Turn away our eyes from beholding vanity, and let no corrupt or defiling thoughts lodge within us. Never suffer us to become a snare, or a stumbling-block, to others; but rather make us monuments of thy mercy, delighting to tell others how thou hast loved us, O thou that savest even the chief of sinners! And finally, O gracious Father! receive us as thy children, without spot, and blameless, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour!
THE PRODIGAL SON: HIS FOLLY.
LUKE XV. 11-16.
And he said, A certain man had two sons:
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me.
them his living.
And he divided unto
And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat and no man gave unto him.
In the first part of this story of the prodigal son, our Lord Jesus Christ describes the folly, and guilt, and misery, of sinners. They depart from the Living God; they abuse all his gifts; they sink deeper and deeper; and, unless his grace recovers them, they receive the wages of sin, which is death, from the hands of their cruel master, the devil.
Now, since all are sinners, it will be necessary to observe the different marks given in this parable, which point out to us our sinful ways and dispositions.
1. Selfishness is one of the first and plainest marks of sin. Indeed, though men do not suspect it, this sin lies at the root of all. Men wish to live for self, not for God. This young man had no other plan in his mind, than to get all he could,