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Christ in the depth of his heart, which marked all his character, and influenced all his conduct, then surely if we would learn that divine love which shone forth in him ? if we would derive all those blessed influences which flow from the cross of Christ, as St. Paul did, and that sure strength and refuge which is to be there found both in time and eternity, we must also be, not in word and profession only, but in very deed, crucified to the world, as St. Paul was. Then only can we at all adequately enter into the sublime sense of such words as the following, which express the mind of that blessed apostle :
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
· Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor ,angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come:
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
MUCH FORGIVEN AND LOVING MUCH.
ST. LUKE vii. 47.
"Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven, for she
We must all remember the occasion on which these words were spoken. Our Lord had been sitting at the table of a Pharisee, who had invited him : but it does not appear that this Pharisee had received him with any great respect, but rather as he would a mean and humble person, such as our Lord appeared to be. It was the custom in those countries to receive honorable guests with salutation, with water for the feet, and ointment for the head; but none of these marks of respect had been shown him, when there came in a woman who had been a sinner, who heard that he was in the house, and stood behind him weeping, and began to “wash his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet and anointed them with ointment." We cannot but suppose that she had heard our Savior teaching, and had thus been deeply wounded to the quick, at the sense of her sinful condition. Perhaps he, knowing what was in the heart of all that heard him, had said something that particularly applied to her own case and life: and thus oppressed with an awful sense of his holiness, she had perhaps heard him say something that poured comfort into her wounded spirit; and she might have witnessed, together with his exceeding hatred to sin, his power and willingness to heal and restore persons who came to him. It is at all events evident, that what she did proceeded from a very deep and strong feeling in her heart; for we have our Lord's own testimony that she loved much.-Loved much Him who was infinitely holy, and just, and good.
Now we see that the Pharisee, although he had invited our Savior to his table, yet seems to have had but little true reverence for him, not only because he had not received him with any great tokens of respect, but he seems to have had some doubts whether he were really a prophet or not; he seems superciliously and scrupulously watching him, and when this woman thus approached our Savior, he began to think within himself that he was no great prophet not to find her out. Little did he think how thoroughly our Lord was acquainted with his own thoughts, and with all his past life, and that of the poor penitent also.
Our blessed Lord, partly perhaps out of compassion for the poor woman, who was thus despised by the Pharisee, and partly out of kindness for the Pharisee himself who had received him, says, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he says, “Master, say
."-"A certain creditor had two debtors, the one owed him five hundred pence, and the other fifty : and when they had not to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which will love him most ?" Simon answered, "I suppose he to whom he forgave most.” Our Lord said unto him,“ Thou hast rightly judged.” And it is very evident, from what follows, that by the person who was forgiven five hundred pence, is meant the poor woman before him, who was a sinner; and by him who was forgiven the fifty, that he meant the Pharisee himself. For, indeed, the poor woman showed that she loved much, and the Pharisee that he loved but little. Are we then to suppose that the sins of this penitent woman were in the sight of God worse, and so much greater than those of the Pharisee ? And are we to suppose then that the more wicked a person is, the more sins he has committed, the more he will love God when he has forgiven him ? Surely this we cannot think, for we know that the more sins any one commits, the more hardened he becomes, the less capable of loving God at all. We know that the effect of sin is to harden the heart, to blind the eyes, and make the ears dull of hearing. How then can he who has committed many and great sins, ever love so much as he who has not, although indeed he does repent, and his sins are forgiven him ?
Now, I think, we may explain it the more clearly by observing our Lord's mode of speaking to the Pharisees, on some other occasions; when they murmured against his keeping company with publicans and sinners, he told them that he was not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Now we cannot suppose that he meant these Pharisees, to be really righteous, for we know that he denounced them at another time as exceeding wicked, and spoke of them in the parable as less justified in God's sight than the poor publican. And when he said to them, “Those that are whole need not a physician, but those that are sick,” surely he did not mean that the Pharisees were whole, and needed not the heavenly Physician. But doubtless this implied that they considered themselves righteous, and as whole, and that therefore he would leave them to their own blindness; but that they should not keep away from him those who felt that they had indeed need of one to keep and heal them.
And so likewise on the present occasion, this woman had indeed been a sinner, but surely not lost in sin; she may have been placed in circumstances of very great temptation. She might, perhaps, have been brought up very badly, and with wicked people, and partly on these accounts fell into sin; but surely, though she had fallen, she had not lived in habits of wickedness, so as to love sin, for otherwise how could she love him who was infinitely holy and good. She felt, indeed, the weight of her sins very greviously and heavily ; she doubtless thought over all the aggravations of them, till they appeared five hundred fold in her sight worse than those of others. She would readily have believed and acknowledged that her sins, in comparision with those of the Pharisee, were indeed as ten-fold: in the same way that the Pharisee would readily have considered himself as the one who owed but little. But surely the Pharisee could not be, in fact, so much better, if at all better, than this sinner, perhaps far worse. A good man feels a great reverence and respect for holy persons, which he must have seen and known our Savior to be. St. Peter himself falls at our Savior's knees, confessing himself a sinful man. The holy St. Paul confessed himself the chief of sinners. Faithful Abraham called himself “ dust and ashes" before God. The holy David says that he was
a worm and no man :” and Job, “Now mine eyes seeth Thee, wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." So that we see the holiest men of old felt and acted more like this woman, who had been a sinner, than like the Pharisee; the fact is, that the more a man thinks of God, the more will he feel himself a sinner; and the more he feels himself a sinner, the more will he love God; not the more he has been a sinner, far, very far from it. The publicans were indeed called sinners by the Jews, on account of their great hatred of them, because they mixed with the heathen; but in the sight of our Lord, the publicans were far more accepted on all occasions, and therefore we may be sure that they were really and in heart far better. Often do we learn from him that the Pharisees were but like whited sepulchres; which were beautiful without, but within full of uncleanness; that they took great care to cleanse the outside of the cup and the platter, to keep a fair exterior, but that they took no care of the heart : that they were very censorious of others, and that all their righteousness was to be seen of men. And though there appears no reason to believe that this Pharisee was one of this description, yet from all these circumstances we may conclude, that our Lord was very far from saying that he was in fact so much better than the poor woman, but that she felt her sins most, therefore she loved most.
And he that is forgiven little loveth little, doubtless means he that feels he has little to be forgiven loveth little.
But it was the custom of our Lord as he knew the hearts of all men, to speak in a way that would touch