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repute; it is the popular system of the day; it subserves the secular and selfish ends of men ; it introduces to the best circles; raises to the highest offices in Church and State; and gives an influence in society that cannot be otherwise attained.
In beautiful contrast with Simon's connexion with Christ stands that of the woman. Her connexion with Him is vital. She was borne into His presence by new and gracious impulses in her soul. These Divine forces within raised her above all conventionalities. Breaking through all formalities, and trampling mere etiquette in the dust, she entered the house of this cold Pharisee, and poured forth her soul in tears. Souls touched by heavenly influences will move on to the Christ of God, as regardless of mere social usages, as the in-coming billows are indifferent to the empty shells that . glitter on the beach. Christ is the centre of such souls; and they will pulsate and heave towards Him as the waves of ocean to the moon.
Another point of contrast suggested by the passage between the technical and vital in Christianity is :
BY FERVID EMOTION.
II. THE ONE IS MARKED BY HEARTLESSNESS, THE OTHER
When the Pharisee saw the woman washing the feet of Christ with her tears, &c., "he spake within himself, saying, This man if he were a prophet,” &c.
Observe four things here which mark the cold heartlessness of this man :
First: The fabrication of a false argument against Christ. “ This man if he were a prophet,” &c. There are two groundless assumptions here : one is that a prophet would know the heart, and the other that a
ophet would have nothing to do with sinners. Where did this man get these notions of the prophetic character from? Where were the prophets who were able to read the heart, or that ever stood aloof from sinners ? Were not prophets always sent to sinners ? Whence came this man's logic? Where all sophistical theological reasoning comes from-a defective heart.
Thoughts follow the emotions, conclusions square with the wishes; the poor intellect is evermore the vassal of the heart. Friend, if thou wouldst reason well, thou must feel well.
Another thing which shows this man's heartlessness is :
Secondly: The vain estimate he had formed of his own character. He says of this woman, “she is a sinner;" implying, that he, forsooth, was sinless. Poor blind soul! how utterly ignorant of thyself! Thou hast never looked into thine own heart—thou hast never seen thyself in the broad light of eternal rectitude, or thou wouldst feel deeply that thou too art but a miserable sinner.
Another thing which shows this man's heartlessness is :
Thirdly: His unkind treatment of this poor penitent woman. Had he not lost all the genial feelings of a man, become dry and sapless in soul, a mere moral skeleton, would not the sight of this distressed woman have moved him ? Yes, had not his heart been ossified by the frosty finger of conventionalism, he would have been roused into emotion at the sight, and mingled his tears with those, of this penitent
The formalist has no compassion for sinners. There is yet another thing here which shows this man's heartlessness, and that is :
Fourthly: His selfish soliloquizing. “He spake within himself.” How like a selfish sinister soul is this! Heartless men and women are always talking to themselves unkind things about others ;-things they dare not speak out to the world.
How strikingly does the woman stand in contrast here to this Simon! Her nature is charged with the most fervid emotions. She entered the house, and stood at His (Christ's) feet behind Him, weeping, and began to wash His feet with "tears,” &c. She is all emotion. Tears, it is true, are not always to be respected. There are the tears of the simpering soul, and the tears of the wily deceiver
“Trust not the cunning waters of the eyes,
Still, sage dramatist, tears are often glorious things. Genuine tears are the involuntary and faithful expressions of the soul. The soul's sorrow or joy, for joy weeps-guilt or innocencefor insulted virtue has its tears—glistens in “the pearly drop." Tears relieve the soul; they discharge its oppressive clouds. Tears fight for the soul ; they “are prevailing orators ;” they win triumphs which neither the infernal sword, nor divine speech, could ever achieve. A true tear is electric to the true.
What “ tears” were these this woman shed ? They were the tears of penitence-she remembered her transgressions and was grieved ; they were the tears of gratitude and love; “She loved much." Feeling- deep, strong, unconquerable, feeling—is the vitality of religion. He who weeps thus will soon “ rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” Those tears of penitence and love, “which run,” as Mrs. Browning beautifully says :
“In long rivers down the lifted face,
Will leave the vision clear for stars and sun.” Another point of strong contrast, suggested by the passage, between the technical and vital in Christianity, is :
III. THE ONE WAS CONDEMNED BY CHRIST, THE OTHER FORGIVEN. Christ's condemnation of the sinner's conduct is
First: In His argument. “And Jesus answering, said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on." In passing, I will do Simon the justice to acknowledge this piece of courtesy. But alas ! the more technical in soul generally the more polite in manners. What did the Master say ? “ There was a certain creditor which had two debtors : the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, Which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose,” -suppose ! hast thou no convictions, no deep intuitions on a question like this?-Suppose forsooth!—"I suppose that he,
to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged." In passing, do not fail to observe three facts implied in this argument. It is implied (1) That some men are greater sinners than others. The difference indicated here is fifty to five hundred. Christ does not mean there was really this difference between Simon's sins and the woman's. He merely assumes in arguing what Simon perhaps felt. It is implied (2) That whatever the amount of sin, small or great, there is but one method of relief. The debtor who only owed the fifty pence was as incapable of paying, as the one who owed the five hundred. Both alike “had nothing to pay ;” and both alike therefore were equally dependent upon the mercy of the creditor. It is implied (3) That the greater the amount of sins consciously forgiven, the greater the amount of gratitude. This is the conclusion readily admitted by Simon. But see how the argument condemns him even on his own, ground.
Christ's condemnation of Simon's conduct is expressed :
Secondly : In his appeal. " And he turned to the woman and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet : but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss : but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet,” &c. Both the attitude and words of Christ were adapted to strike with a heavy stroke the cold, contracted, sapless, nature of this Pharisee. He turned to the woman to show Simon His deep interest in the greatest sinner when penitent. Thus by word and attitude Christ virtually condemned the conduct of this sinner ;-and so he does ever the conduct of the formalist.
But whilst Simon is thus condemned, the woman is forgiven. “Thy sins are forgiven." Observe (1) The greatness of her forgiveness. She was a great sinner. Christ forgives great sinners. Observe (2) The proof of her forgiveness. Overwhelming gratitude and love. Observe (3) The condition of her forgiveness ;-"thy faith hath saved thee.” “Be it known unto you, men and brethren, tbat through this man is preached,” &c. Observe (4) The blessedness of her forgiveness. “Go in peace." What a blessing is peace! “Go in peace.”
Let not the thunders of law, the accusations of conscience, the forebodings of the future, terrify thee any more.
Hush thy sorrows, dry thy tears ; take thy harp and give sweet music to the glorious truth, that "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” &c.
SUBJECT :— The Spiritual Sower. “Give ye ear, and hear my voice ; hearken, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow ? doth he open and break the clods of his ground ?”—Isaiah xviii. 23, 24.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twenty-second. A KNOWLEDGE of agriculture is almost essential to the right appreciation of many portions of the Bible. Many of the sacred figures are drawn from imagery, with which the agriculturist is familiar. The prophet Isaiah in describing the various means and modes which God employed for the instruction of his ancient people, in the text, refers to the process of sowing. “Give ye ear,” &c. The earliest mention we have of this art is in the book of Genesis, chap. xxvi. verse 12, where we are told that Isaac “sowed in that land."
It is certainly a pious cast of mind to make the present world subservient to the future; that which is without an image of what is within ; the visible a figure of the invisible; the operations of men illustrative of the workings of God. It is highly probable that when the prophet gave utterance to the words of the text, the agriculturists of Palestine were busy with such husbandry labors.
We shall draw a few reflections from this most interesting portion of the word of God. We observe :
I. THAT THE PROCESS OF SOWING IMPLIES A SOIL PREPARED FOR THE SEED, The art of ploughing or cultivating the soil