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SECȚION LX.

Jesus dines at a Pharisee's house, and vindicates the woman who anoint

ed his feet there. LUKE vii. 36, &c.

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entering into the house of the Pharisee, he sat down to ta37 ble. And, behold, a woman in that city who had been a great

sinner, when she knew that he sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, 38 brought an alabaster vessel of perfumed ointment. And standing

by the couch behind him, at his feet*, she began to water his feet with a shower of tears ; and wiped them with the tresses of her hair, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the perfumed balsam.

Now the Pharisee who had invited him, observing this, said within himself, This man if he were a prophet, would have known

who and what kind of woman this is that touched him ; for she is 40 a scandalous sinner. And Jesus, in reply, said to him, Simon,

I have something to say to thee. And he says, O Teacher, say 41 it freely. Then Jesus delivered this parable : A certain creditor

had two debtors ; one owed him five hundred pencet, and the 42 other fifty : Now'as they had not any thing to pay, he freely for

gave them both ; say, therefore, which of them would love him 43 most ? And Simon replied, and said, I suppose that he to whom

he forgave most. And Jesus said to him, thou hast judged right44 ly:

And turning to the woman, he said to Simon, Thou seest this woman. I came into thine house, [and] thou didst not give

me any water to wash my feet ; but she has watered my feet with 45 tears, and wiped them with the tresses of her hair. Thou didst

not give me the usual respect of a kiss; but she ever since she 46 came in, has not ceased to kiss my feet. Thou didst not anoint my

head with oil t; but she has anointed my feet with precious oint47 ment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her many sins are forgiven ;

therefore she hath loved much : whereas he to whom little is 48 forgiven loveth but little. And he says to her, thy sins are for49 given. And they who were at table with him, began to say with50 in themselves, Who is this that even forgiveth sins ? But he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee ; go thy way

in

peace,

REFLECTIONS. How joyful an assurance must this Chave been] to a soul thus bowed down and humbled in the very dust under a sense of sin ! How light did the reproaches of men sit upon her when she heard these reviving words from the mouth of the great Saviour, who alone had authority to pronounce them ! Our hearts surely upbraid us with ma

* They did not sit as we do at meals, but used the recumbing posture. † The Denarii, or Roman pence, were each in value about 7 1-2 of our # l'hese were the usual ceremonies on the reception of guests.

money.

ny and aggravated sins ; but we hear the tidings of pardon : let us gladly embrace it ; and acknowledging that not five hundred pence, nor even ten thousand talents, are sufficient to express the greatness of our debt, let us retain the remembrance of it, even when we hope that God has forgiven it; and let us labour, that the tenderness of our love, the warmth of our zeal, and the steadiness of our obedience, may in some measure be proportionable to it : and, blessed Jesus, how distinguished must they then be !

Let us with humble pleasure approach this compassionate Friend of sinners ; who, though in one sense separate from them, yet thus freely and graciously encouraged the chief of them to apply to him, though he well knew that condescension would expose him to the censure of the self-conceited Pharisees. May God preserve us from that arrogant confidence in our own righteousness, which, while it leads us to despide some, perhaps much dearer to him than ourselves, would proportionably sink our value for the Saviour, and our love to him! Let the candour with which Christ accepted this invitation, and the gentleness and prudence with which he behaved at this ensnaring entertainment, teach us to mingle the wisdom of the serpent with the innocence and sweetness of the dove ; and neither absolutely to refuse all favours, nor severely to resent all neglects, from those whose friendship might at best be very dubious, and their intimacy by no means safe. To conclude ; let us avoid that very ill temper which this Pharisee shewed in upbraiding this poor, humble penitent with the scandals of her former life. Where we have reason to believe that sin has been lamented and forsaken, and consequently that God has forgiven it, let us cheerfully receive those whom our holy Master has not rejected ; and if the remembrance of former irregularities cannot be entirely lost, let it only engage us to magnify the riches of divine grace towards such persons, and to rejoice with them in the display of it.

SECTION LXI.

Our Lord, attended by some pious women, casts out a demon, vindicates

himself from a blasphemous charge of the Pharisees, and warns them of the unpardonable sin. LUKE viii. 1-3. xi. 14, 15, 17—23. MATT. xii. 22-32. MARK iii. 22-30.

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OW it came to pass afterwards, that he travelled through every

city and village, preaching and publishing the glad-tidings of the kingdom of God; and the twelve apostles were with him. And some women also, who had been cured of evil spirits and illnesses ; particularly Mary, who was called Magdalene *, out of whom had been cast seven demons; and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, a steward of king Herod, and Susannah, and many other women, who assisted him with their possessions.

* From Magdala, the place of her residence. There is no proof that she was the person mentioned 8 60. (Her being possessed of demons is no evidence of her infamous character. See Dr. Lardner's Letter to Jonas Han way, Esq. on the impropriety of the term “ Magdalen-house.” Ed.]

Then there was brought to him one possessed by a demon, both blind and dumb, and he cured him; so that it came to pass, when the demon was gone out, that the blind and dumb person both spake and saw.

And all the people were astonished, and said, Is not this the son of David ? But the Pharisees and the Scribes, who came down from Jerusalem, hearing this, said, This man is himself possessed by Beelzebub, and does not cast out demons but by Beelzebub, the prince or chief of the demons.--And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, called them to him, and said to them, in parabolical expressions, How can Satan cast out Satan ? Every kingdom divided against itself cannot subsist, but is brought to utter desolation ; and every city or family divided against itself shall not stand, but falleth into ruin. And therefore if Satan rise up against himself, and cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom subsist? He cannot stand, but has a speedy period. Therefore because you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebub, you must appear to have been guilty of the most extravagant absurdity. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your own children expel them ? who practice exorcisms*, and are approved by you? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the finger or the Spirit of God, then undoubt, edly the kingdom of God is come unto you. Otherwise, how can any one enter into the house of a strong man and plunder his goods, unless he first bind the strong man ? and then he may plunder his house.-When a strong man completely armed guards his palace, his goods are in peace; but when one stronger than he invades and conquers him, he takes away all his complete armory in which he placed his confidence, and distributes his spoils.

He that is not with me is against me ; and he that does not gather. with me is scattering abroad : much more criminal then must those be who with deliberate malice oppose my cause. Therefore verily I say unto you, all other sins shall be forgiven unto the children of men, and even all blasphemies with which they shall blaspheme; but the blasphemy against the Spirit of God, in this most glorious dispensation of it, shall not be forgiven to men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him ; but whosoever shall maliciously speak against the Holy Spiritt, it shall never be forgiven him, either in this world or in that which is to come, but he is obnoxious to eternal damnation. This solemn admonition he gave them, because they had said, He hath an unclean spirit.

REFLECTIONS. How condescending was the conduct of the blessed Jesus while he dwelt among us! Though he was Lord of all, he not only waved

* For a proof of this fact,[that the disciples of the Pharisees practised exorcisms] see Acts xix. 13. Mark ix. 38. Luke ix. 49. Also Joseph. Antig. 1. 8. chap. 2. $ 5.

† When the grand dispensation of it shall open, imputing his glorious works of divine power and goodness to a diabolical operation. See Whitby. VOL. I.

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the pompous manner of subsisting by continued miracles, but likewise declined to dwell with the rich and the great, with whom he could easily have secured to himself a constant abode. He chose a laborious, itinerant course, and subsisted chiefly on the bounty of a few pious women, whose company and friendship he did not despise. That subsistence was most pleasing to him which was the greatest testimony of the respe and affection of his hearers, and at the same time gave the greatest opportunity to testify his own humility and selfdenial, and to pursue his schemes for public usefulness. So may his followers, and especially his ministers, always judge ! And may all the great things they seck for themselves be such as lie on the other side of the grave, and are to be enjoyed in the presence of our glorified Master!

We have seen another triumph of Christ over the evil spirit, another of those glorious and delightful instances in which the great Captain of our salvation, with superior strength, bound the strong man, and spoiled his goods. May the victory still be carried on to perfection ! May hís merciful alarms break that dangerous and fatal peace in which the slaves of Satan are for a while detained, that he may with greater advantage, and greater terror, plange them into final and eternal ruin ! And, in such a contest, may wo abhor neutrality! With pleasure and zeal let us list ourselves under the Redeemer's banners, that we may share his trophies ! Andy while others are throwing away their time, their labours and their souls, may we, by gathering with him, secure to ourselves everlasting riches

We must surely be astonished to hear of that perverse and malignant interpretation which these wretches put on such convincing miracles; and it must move our indignation to see the Son of God maliciously charged as an associate with Satan. If they have thus called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more those of his household? Let us learn to imitate that meekness of wisdom with which the blessed Jesus pursues his vindication Oh that his followers had ever traced it! Yea, I had almost said, Oh that they had learned, even from the union of confederate enemies, the danger of that house or kingdom which is unnaturally divided against itself!

It is matter of great thankfulness thus expressly to hear that every other sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven ; but awful to think that the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is excepted. Let those, who, while they cannot deny the facts of Christianity, despise and oppose its doctrines, tremble to think how near they approach to the boundaries of this sin, which is perhaps more obscurely described that we may more cautiously avoid all such approaches. But let not the humble soul, that trembles at God's word, meditate terror to itself froin such a passage ; which, when viewed in its due connection, cannot, with any shadow of Teason, be thought to belong to any who do not obstinately reject the gospel, and maliciously onnose it, when made known to them with its fullest evidence.

SECTION LXII.

The danger of vain and sinful words : the blessedness of keeping the

word of God. MATT. xii. 33—37. LUKE xi. 27, 28.

ESUS enforced his admonition to the censorious Pharisees, saying,

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and allow the tree to be corrupt, and its fruit also corrupt : for the tree is known by the fruit it produces. O ye brood of vipers, how can ye who are so wicked yourselves, speak good things ? for the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart produces good things ; and a wicked man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil things. But I declare unto you, that in the day of judgment men shall give account for every unprofitable word which they shall speak : For by thy words as well as thy actions thou shalt be justified, or by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

And while he was speaking these things a certain woman lifting up her voice from amidst the crowd, said unto him, Happy is the womb that bare thee, and the breasts which thou didst suck. But he replied, Nay, rather happy are they who hear the word of God and keep it.

REFLECTIONS. Whose heart does not echo back the exclamation of this pious woman? Yet who does not too frequently forget that weighty and important answer which succeeded it? Let us not only hear, but keep the word of Christ; and we shall thus be happy in a nearer union with him than ever could arise from any natural relation to him, and shall. ere long have opportunities of more noble and more delightful converse with him than those with which the virgin Mary herself was honoured during the time of his abode on earth.

Let us especially attend to those instructions we have here received, and judge of ourselves by our fruits ; never flattering ourselves that our hearts are good, if our lives are abominable and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate. And in particular let us remember that not our actions only, but the fruits of our lips, are to be brought into the solemn account which we must give to the great Judge of all the carth ; and that the day is coming when all our idle and unprofitable talk, which has proceeded from the evil treasure of a depraved heart, will undergo a strict examination, and we must answer not for our actions only, but shall be justified or condemned by our words. And, if foolish and wicked speeches are to be accounted for in the day of judgment, let us set a watch on the door of our liss to prevent them; and labour daily to use our tongue so that it may indeed be, as it is in scripture called, our glory.

For that purpose let it be our great care to lay up a good treasure of Christian knowledge and experience in our hearts ; that while too many are poisoning those that are round about them with erroneous principles and vicious discourses, the opening of our lips may be of righteous things ; and we may still be ready, upon all proper occasions,

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