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to his house justified rather than the other.” The Pharisee was worshipping an unjust God, a Being whom he expected to propitiate by his regular life; the publican acknowledges the justice of God, pronouncing himself guilty, and yet looks to find him also a merciful Saviour. The Pharisee was upright and exemplary in the sight of men; the publican a manifest transgressor. But in the gospel of the grace of God, the Pharisee is condemned --the publican is justified. Again : “ One of the Pharisees desired Jesus that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And behold, a woman in the city which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, 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. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, 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.” This Pharisee resembled many in our own days; he was so far convinced by the miracies, and pleased with the character of Christ, that he professed to be his friend, and invited him
to his house, but he was ignorant of, and at enmity against this distinguishing characteristic of revealed religion—the free forgiveness of sinners. So decided was his aversion to
. this, that when he saw it exemplified in the Saviour's deportment towards the sinful woman, he began to doubt, and in his heart deny, what he seems before to have believed, that Jesus was a prophet. His modern counterparts retain their professed acknowledgment of Jesus as a prophet, but deny this branch of the doctrine he taught.
or And Jesus answering, said unto the Pharisee, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors; the one owed him five hundred pence, 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 that he to whom he forgave most, &c.”. The proud Pharisee is convicted out of his own mouth; the humbled penitent, who had been proverbially a sinner, is forgiven, commended, and comforted.
Well did the apostle Paul enter into the meaning of his divine Master's conduct, when on this subject he wrote these remarkable words : “ There is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory
of God: being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness; that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Here, then, my brethren, help is laid on one that is mighty; here mercy flows without obstructions; here where transgression abounds, forgiveness does much more abound; the highest mountains of human guilt are washed into the depths of the sea, before this deep, broad, glorious river of divine grace, the streams whereof make glad indeed the city of God.
Now, undoubtedly, this sounds very like encouragement to sin; and it is quite possible that, on that account, many who hear it will not believe it. It is quite possible, also, that some who hear it will abuse it. But is it, therefore, not true? Can man's unbelief, on one side, or man's carnal abuse, on the other, affect, in the smallest degree, the statements of God's word ? Surely not. And we repeat, that whether men receive or reject this truth, it lies at the foundation of the gospel of Christ, and without it, or short of it, there is nothing revealed which fully deserves the name of gospel.
< What shall we say then ? shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” Observe how naturally the objection, which was made to the apostle's doctrine, suggests itself here. And is not this a strong internal testimony to the fact, that the apostle's doctrine, and this doctrine, are not two different doctrines, but one and the same doctrine —the unchanging, unchangeable doctrine of the everlasting gospel of the grace of God.
Shall we then continue in sin, that grace may abound? My brethren, God forbid! It does not belong to our present subject, to shew how inseparably the truth now before us is connected with a state of heart, which secures such a kind and such a degree of holiness, as can never be produced by any other truth. This is a separate subject, and may
well occupy our attention on some other occasion, when we consider the new creation in the Christian's heart, after the image of Him who created him. But at present, our object is to encourage penitent sinners to come to their just God and Saviour for forgiveness; to look unto him as revealed in the face of Jesus Christ, and be saved; assuring them that he receiveth freely, and saveth to the uttermost, even the most unworthy; that, as there is no admission to God in any other way, so there is no exclusion from God in this way.
man cometh unto the Father but by me;" and “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Open then the eyes of
understandings, my beloved brethren, and count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, your just Saviour. Behold him in his eternal glory, which he had with the Father before the world was, entering into covenant, to give himself for your salvation; behold him hastening to announce the blessed purpose in the garden of Eden, causing a sunbeam of hope, with distant but brilliant light, to glance across the dismal darkness of the original curse. Behold him showing a pattern of his everlasting gospel to Moses in the mount, and commanding him to construct, according to that pattern, all the details of his ceremonial worship, all the typical bloodshedding for the remission of sin, which was to contain an exact shadow of good things to come. * Behold him revealing to the prophets his own approaching and bitter sufferings, and the amazing glory which should follow. Behold him at the time appointed of the Father, taking upon him our human nature in the womb of a virgin, exhibiting in that nature a perfect example of spotless undeviating obedience to
* See Hebrews viii. 5; and x. 1 to 14.