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the prophetic office of the Baptist, and declared that he was the person referred to by the prophet Isaiah, in those remarkable words, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee; and added, that this extraordinary person was that Elias which, the ancient prophets declared, was to Coyle.
Our Lord having done justice to the character of his great forerunner, took occasion from thence to blame and rebuke the obstinacy and perverseness of the great men and high pretenders to religion amongst the Jews, who had rejected both his own and the Baptist's testimony. It seems, by the nature of CHR1st’s rebuke, that the Scribes and Pharisees, who pretend to great fasting and mortification, thought themselves eclipsed, and with envious vexation beheld themselves outdone by the real austerity of the Baptist. His living in the desert, and shunning the company of men and the conveniencies of life, the coarseness of his cloathing, the abstemiousness and plainness of his diet, and the real severities he practised, they beheld with growing rancour, and not only represented them as imprudent and unnecessary, but proceeded so far as to declare him possessed with an apostate spirit: For John came neither eating nor drinking; and ye say, He hath a devil.
But though these bold pretenders to superior sanctity and mortification, could exclaim against the Baptist on account of the austerity of his life, it was manifest that it was envy and not reason which promoted their unbelief: for when CHRIST on the contrary, dwelt in cities, and conversed with mankind, enjoining no austerities nor mortification, they could make use of this conduct as a ground of reproach. The son of man came eating and drinking : though he could not by his most inveterate enemies be charged with any intemperance, or with encouraging it in others; yet these determined opposers of heavenly truth could say, Behold a man, gluttonous, and a wine-bibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners / But, said our great Redeemer, wisdom is justified of her children.
He then proceeded to upbraid the several cities where his most wonderful works had been performed; they had enjoyed the opportunity of attending his heavenly discourses, and had been witness to his wonderful works; frequently had they seen him perform miracles which could not be disputed, but fully manifested the mighty power of God; they had often seen him perform wonders sufficient to have convinced the most ignorant and idolatrous nations, who were immersed in the depth of sensuality, and had imbibed the strongest prejudices against the truth: yet, so great was their obstinacy, they persisted in their unbelief, they persisted in their wickedness notwithstanding all he had done to convince and reform them. Woe unto thee Chorazin f Woe unto thee, Bethsaida 'said our great Redeemer, for if the mighty works which have been done fn you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and ..Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And thou Capernaum, that art evalled unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works that have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day. But I say winto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you. Matt. xi. 21, &c. After having, in the most awful, affecting, and awakening manner, pronounced such woes on these unbelieving and profligate cities, our great Redeemer concluded his discourse with these gracious and reviv
ing words, Come unto me all ye that labour and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest. It is the Son of the eternal God, the Heir of all things, the almighty Judge of heaven and earth, who kindly condescends to address poor, lost, undone sinners in this affecting
language; having pronounced heavy woes on the rebellious race, whose haughty self-sufficiency, inveterate prejudice, pride and obstinacy, prevented their receiving the truth, the kind and condescending Saviour of sinners gives the most tender, heart-affecting invitation to the humble and penitènt. Those who lobour and are heavy laden; those who are conscious of their vileness and sinfulness, who are pressed with the weight of their iniquities; whose guilt lies upon them like an heavy burden, from the weight of which they ardently desire to be delivered, are here called upon and earnestly invited to come to the only person who is able to relieve them. It is not the great and noble; it is not the powerful, prosperous and happy; it is not the exulting sons of joy, but the poor, needy, and afflicted, who are labouring under a sense of sin, and burdened with the weight of their iniquities, who are thus invited to come to our great Redeemer. The reat Maker of all things, the all-wise and all-powerul Preserver, the supreme Governor and Judge of the universe, graciously condescends to call unto, and with the utmost tenderness to invite poor, heavy-laden," burdened sinners to come; he does not call upon them to come with a design to punish their offences; he does not summon them to appear before his awful seat of judgment; he does not call them with a design to deride or expose their miseries; he does not call them with an intent to punish their offences, but with a design to release them from their afflictions, to release them from their burdens, to give them rest and peace, and make them eternally happy. Come unto me, says our great Redeemer, all ye that labour and are heavy laden ; all you who are humbled under a sense of your iniquities; who see the dreadful condition to which you are reduced by your sins; who have been long groaning under the intolerable weight of your guilt, and panting for deliverance; but throughout the limits of the wide creation can find no refuge; no help, no deliverer. Come unto me, look unto me and be saved ; trust in one as mighty to saves venture your all in my
hands, seek no other refuge, no other help, no other deliverer; but come unto me and I will give you rest. It is not my design to upbraid you with the vileness and folly of your conduct; it is not my design to enter into judgment with you and punish you for your iniquities, but to lead you into the paths of peace, truth’ and happiness: be not afraid to listen to my words and follow my directions, but with a full reliance on my power, wisdom, and goodness, take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart ; and ye shall find rest to your souls: for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Can there be a greater evidence of the corruption and depravity of the human heart than the coldness with which the degenerate sons of Adam, receive so tender, so affecting, and so important an invitation. The great Creator hath formed them with strong desires of happiness, and they toil out a weary life, in the eager pursuit of every appearance of good. They are lost in the pursuit, and instead of happiness, find themselves plunged in trouble, vexation and woe; they find themselves burdened with many griefs, but will not come to him who is only able to relieve them. What blindness, stupidity, and abominable pride possess the human heart, and excite it to reject the gracious calls and invitations of the only Saviour of sinners
After our great Redeemer had finished his discóurse, he was invited by one Simon a leper to go to his house and take some refreshment. The invitation he accepted, and accompanied him to his apartment, where, as he sat at meat, a woman whose course of life was known to have been loose and profligate, sat at his feet beholding him with the tenderest affection, and shed such floods of tears that they trickled down his feet, which according to the custom of the country were
c bare. She seeing that her tears had wet the feet! ot her beloved Lord, wiped them with her hair, frequently kissing them with the utmost tenderness and affec
tion, and anointed them with precious ointment. It
was doubtless the sense of her former course of life, and a deep conviction of her crimes, which caused this woman to shed such a profusion of tears; and her love to the blessed JESUs arose from the benefit she had received from his heavenly discourses.
The custom, which then prevailed in the Eastern countries, of pouring fragrant oil on the heads of those guests on whom they designed to bestow peculiar and distinguished marks of honour, seems to have brought this woman to our Redeemer at this time; and it appears to have been her original intention to have poured the ointment on his head; but being deeply humbled under a sense of her unworthiness she could not approach her divine Instructor with so much freedom as to accomplish her first intention, but thought it more consistent with her humility and self-abasement to anoint only bis feet.
The leper, who it seems was a Pharisee, had attentively observed the woman, and knowing her character, concluded that Jesus could not be a prophet. This man, said Simon to himself, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman that is that touched him ; for she is a sinner. And so full of pride and self-sufficiency was the man, that he was of fended at, and was ready to rebuke the blessed JESUS for his deigning to take notice of and conversing with such contemptible characters: but our great Redeemer to convince him that he was a prophet, and that he knew not only the character of the woman who had touched him, but was acquainted with the thoughts of all who thought mean of him in their hearts, began a conversation with him on the very subject he had been revolving in his mind. He did not expose his folly to the company by openly relating the secret thoughts of his heart, and insisting on the absurdity of them, but with the utmost delicacy pointed out to Simon himself the unreasonableness of the conclusion he had formed. Simon, said, the blessed JESUs, I have somewhat to say