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feet, exclaiming, “ Lord be merciful to me also, wł am a sinner.”
How odious is that disposition which leads persons thus to reproach the truly penitent with the irregularities of their past lives! Where iniquity has been truly bewailed, and entirely forsaken by any transgressors; where God has forgiven their sins and received them into his favour, we should surely, instead of imitating the haughty pharisee, forget those vices of our brethren that have been mourned and pardoned, or remember them only to admire the riche of divine grace, and the compassion of the Saviour.
Jesus proves to Simon, that he is the prophet of Israel, by speaking to him of his unuttered thoughts. He did not publicly reprove him; but with delicacy, wisdom, and benignity, led him to confess his error, while he justified his own conduct to the penitent woman. “ And Jesus said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor who had two debtors, the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.” Ah! I see the attention of the penitent redouble; she penetrates the design of the Saviour; she waits with anxiety to hear what was the doom of that debtor who owed most, for she feels that that debtor is herself; her heart leaps when Jesus adds, “ And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.” The tears again burst from her eyes, but they are tears of joy, at the doctrine of unmerited mercy and grace. To the question of the Saviour, “ Which of them will love him most ?" Simon replies, “ I suppose that he to whom he forgave most :" an answer which the Saviour commends.
The application of this parable to the occasion on which it was uttered, is evident. It is as though
Jesus had said, “ According to your own confession, love to me will be proportioned to the sense that persons have of the greatness of their sins, and of the necessity and worth of a full and free pardon. On this account, you, who suppose you have few transgressions, would be little affected at the tidings of forgiveness; but this woman, who has felt the greatness of her guilt, has discovered a warm love and gratitude for pardoning mercy; and it would be utterly inconsistent with my character and office, to reject one whose heart is humbled by repentance, and glowing with affection.'
Before we proceed in the history, let us apply this parable to ourselves : we are all these debtors to God; whatever difference there may be in our characters and conduct, we are sinners, and the justice of Jehovah has solemn claims upon us.
We are unable to satisfy the claims of divine justice, and to atone for our violations of the divine law. Happy for us that when we come to God, through Christ, feeling and acknowledging our inability, there is full forgiveness. In this manner only can we obtain par- ; don. The comparative smallness of our debt affords no claim for forgiveness. Whether indebted fifty or five hundred pence; whether we have been decent formalists, or profligate offenders, we can have no other available plea, than free and unmerit
Our Saviour directly applied the parable he had uttered. He turned to the woman" that countenance which shone with compassion and benignity, “ and said, Simon, scest thou this woman,” this wicked, wandering child, whose past irregularities thou so carefully rememberest, overlooking, or forgetting, her present sentiments ? I bebold her heart; I see the source
of all those attentions which have been paid by he but neglected by thee. I entered into thine house thou gavest me no water for my feet ;" one of the acts o eastern hospitality to the stranger and the guest; * but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head: thou gavest me no kiss" of friendship and respect; the salutation with which it was then customary for the master of the house to receive those who entered it; 6 but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet,” in token of the deepest reverence, as well as affection. · My head with oil thou didst not anoint,” although few entertainments fail of being attended with this circumstance: “ but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.” He adds, that this her regard for him proceeded solely from a sense of the favour he had done her, in bringing her to repentance, and bestow. ing pardon on her. Wherefore, I say unto you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven her ; for,” or rather therefore,* she loved much," as she has manifested by these expressions of affection, and of a grateful heart: “ but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little,” as would be the case with thee, Simon, if pardon were announced to thee, because thou ignorantly imaginest thy guilt to be trifling.
How attentive is our blessed Saviour to every act of the true penitent. He beholdeth the returning prodigal “ while yet a great way off,” and marks the faintest desires of holiness. While pursuing his discourse with Simon, he seemed as though he had not observed this woman, yet he had noticed every tear, had regarded every emotion of her heart, and was
waiting to be gracious.” He is as careful of thee,
'07, signum remissionis, non causa.
poor penitent. He observes all thy'secret sighs, and struggles, and conflicts; and he will in the
proper season cause light and consolation to beam upon thee.
Jesus then immediately addressed the woman, and with a voice of mingled authority and tenderness said unto her, “ Thy sins are forgiven thee.” Numerous as her offences had been, they were all without exception blotted from the book of God's remembrance. The Evangelist attempts not to describe her conduct and her feelings, but we can easily imagine her grateful looks, her silent rapture. Believer, recall thine own emotions when thou first wast enabled to lay hold by a lively faith on the sacrifice of Jesus, and to cry," he loved me, he gave
himself for me.” Such were the joys of this penitent; joys to be exceeded only by the final acquittal of the sinner, and his complete justification at the judgment-day.
A different effect was produced upon those who sat at meat with the Redeemer. They were indignant that he should not only neglect the tradition of the elders, by suffering himself to be touched by a sinner, but that he should also claim the power of dispensing pardon. “ They began to say, Who is this that forgiveth sins also ?” Jesus, disregarding their censures, confirms to her the joyful tidings that her iniquities are pardoned, and her soul saved. Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.” What gratitude and transport did these words inspire! How did they enable her to pass through life under a sense of the divine favour! How did the recollection of them support her on the bed of death! With what ecstasy does she still remember them now that, instead of weeping at the feet of Jesus, she is participating in his glory.
1. Admire, in reviewing this history, the grace of the gospel, and the aboưinding compassion of the Redeemer. Salvation is freely offered to all : Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of sinners. Even those who are loaded with the scorn and contempt of the world, are invited to him. However aggravated their guilt, his blood can atone for it. Flee to him then, sinner, as the only foundation of thy hope. Look with confidence to him, thou poor penitent, whose heart is well nigh broken at the recollection of thy crimes : “ He will not break thee, thou bruised reed; he will not quench thee, thou smoking flax."
2. Admire the power of the gospel of Jesus. We have said, and we repoat it with exultation, it is a religion calculated for the guilty and forlorn children of men; but remember, that it opens no asylum to criminals, as such. The most abandoned and profligate are indeed permitted and invited to flee into the church of the Redeemer, as a sanctuary, but it does not protect them in their crimes : in it they are to be changed, to be regenerated ; and by the power of the Redeemer the most wonderful moral transformations have been effected : in “ the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness,” those who have been “ justified,” have also “ been washed and sanctified.” When systems of philosophy, and forms of religion, and codes of law, have utterly failed, the power of the gospel has been mighty and effectual. The most abandoned sinners have through it acquired a virtue elevated and refined. Their lustre of holiness has accompanied them to the end of life, has irradiated the chamber of disease, has encircled the brow of death with ineffable glory. Who can fail to admire the power displayed, not merely in the