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ward due to her works. She was afraid, as she had reason to be, that the language of that dreadful mountain proceeding from the mouth of divine justice would pierce her through. Nor did she endeavor to ward off the blows of justice by covering herself with superstitious practices. She did not say wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand of rivers of oil ? Shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ? Micah vi. 7. She did not even require priests and Levites to offer propitiatory sacrifices for her. She discerned the sophisms of error, and acknowledged the Redeemer of mankind under the veils of infirmity and poverty, that covered him. She knew, that the blood of bulls and of goats could not purify the conscience. She knew that Jesus sitting at table with the pharisee was the only offering, the only victim of worth sufficient to satisfy the justice of an offended God. She knew that he was made unto sinners wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption : that his name was the only one among men whereby they might be saved. It was to Jesus Christ that she had recourse, bedewing with tears the feet of him, who was about to shed his blood for her, and receiving by an ananticipated faith the benefit of the death, that he was going to suffer, she renounced dependance on every kind of satisfaction except his.
The third character of the repentance of this sinner is love. It shall seem, Jesus Christ, would have us consider all her actions as evidences of love, rather than as marks of repentance. · She hath lored much. These things are not incompatible. Though perfect love casteth out fear, yet it doth not cast out grief, for the pardon of sin received by an elect soul, far from diminishing the regret which it feels for committing it, contributes to augment it. The more we love God, the greater the pain felt for offending him. Yea, this love that makes the happiness of angels, this love that inflames seraphims, this love that supports the believer under the most cruel torments, this love is the greatest punishment of a penitent. To have offended the God we love, a God rendered amiable by infinite perfections, a God so tender, so compassionate as to pardon the very sins we lament; this love excites in a soul such emotions of repentance as we should labor in vain to express, unless your hearts, in concert with our mouths, feel in proportion as we describe.
Courage is the fourth character of the repentance, or, if you will, the love of this woman. She doth not say, What will they say of me? Ah, my brethren, how often hath this single consideration, What will they say of me? been an obstacle to repentance ! How many penitents have been discouraged, if not prevented by it! To say all in one word, how many souls hath it planged into perdition ! Persons affected by this, though urged by their consciences to renounce the world and its pleasures, have not been able to get over a fear of the opinions of mankind concerning their conversion. Is any one persuaded of the necessity of living retired? This consideration, What will be said of me? terrifies him. It will be said, that I choose to be singular, that I affect to distinguish myself from other men, that I am an enemy to social pleasure. Doth any one desire to be exact in the performance of divine worship? This one consideration, What will they say of me? terrifies. They will say, I affect to set myself off for a religious and pions person, I want to impose on the church by a specious outside ; they will say, I am a weak man full of fancies and phantoms. Our penitent breaks through every worldly consideration. “ She goes, saith a modern author, into a strange house, without being invited, to disturb the pleasure of a festival by an ill-timed sorrow, to cast · herself at the feet of the Saviour, without fearing what would be said, either of her past life, or of her present boldness, to make by this extraordinary action a public confession of her dissoluteness and to suffer, for the first punishment of her sins, and for a proof of her conversion, such insults as the pride of the pharisees, and her own ruined reputation would certainly draw upon her.” We have seen the behavior of the penitent; now let us observe the judgment of the pharisee, If this man were a prophet, he would have known who, and what manner of woman that is that toucheth him, for she is a woman of bad fame.
II. The evangelist expressly tells us, that the pharisee who thus judged, was the person at whose table Jesus Christ was eating. Whether he were a disciple of Jesus Christ, as is very probable, and as his calling Christ master seems to import, or whether he had invited him for other reasons, are questions of little importance and we will not now examine them. It is certain, our Saviour did often eat with some pharisees, who far from being his disciples were the most implacable enemies of his person and doctrine. If this man were a disciple of Jesus Christ, it should seem very strange that he should doubt the divinity of the mission of Christ, and inwardly refuse him even the quality of a prophet. This pharisee was named Simon, however nothing obliges us either to confound Simon the pharisee with Simon the leper, mentioned in Matthew, and to whose house, Jesus Christ retired, or the history of our text with that related in the last mentioned place, for the circumstances are very different, as it would be easy to prove, had we not subjects more important to propose to you. Whoever this pharisee might be, he said within himself, 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. There are four defects in this judgment-a criminal indolence an extravagant rashness—an intolerable pride-an antichristian cruelty. As we cannot help condemning the opinion of the pharisee for these four defects, so we cannot avoid censuring most of the judgments, that people form on the conduct of their neighbors for the same reasons. ,
A criminal indolence. That disposition of mind, I allow, is very censurable, which inspires à perpetual attention to the actions of our neighbors, and the motive of it is sufficient to make us abhor the practice. We have reason to think, that the more people pry into the conduct of their neighbors, the more they intend to gratify the barbarous pleasure of defaming them: but there is a disposition far more censurable still, and that is to be always ready to form a rigorous judgment on the least appearances of impropriety, and without taking pains to enquire, whether there be no circumstances that diminish the guilt of an action apparently wrong, nothing that renders it deserving of patience or pity. It doth not belong to us to set ourselves up for judges of the actions of our brethren, to become inquisitors in regard to their manners, and to distribute punishments of sin and rewards of virtue. At least, when we usurp this right, let us not aggravate our conduct by the manner, in which we exercise the bold imperious usurpation. Let us not pronounce like iniquitous judges on the actions of those sinners, to whom nature, society, and religion ought to unite us in an affectionate manner. Let us procure exact informations of the causes of such criminals as we summon before our tribunals, and let us not deliver our sentences till we have weighed in a just ba. lance whatever tends to condemn, or to absolve them. This would bridle our malignity. We should be constrained to suspend for a long time our avidity to solicit, and to hasten the death of a sinner. The pleasure of declaring him guilty would be counterbalanced by the pain of trying the cause. Did this pharisee give himself time to examine the whole conduct of the sinner, as he called her ? Did he enter into all the discussions necessary to determine whether she were a penitent sinner, or an obstinate sinner? whether she were reformed, or hardened like a reprobate in the practice of sin ? No certainly. At the sight of the woman he recollects only the crimes, of which she had been guilty; he did not see her, and he did not choose to see her in any other point of light ; he pronounced her character rashly, and he wanted Jesus Christ to be as rash as himself, this is a woman of bad fame. Do you not perceive, my brethren, what wicked indolence animated this iniquitous judge, and perverted his judgment.
The pharisee sinned by rashness. See how he judges of the conduct of Christ in regard to the woman, and of what the woman ought to expect of Jesus Christ, on supposition his mission had been divine, 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 opi VOL. v.