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deaf, the cleansing of the lepers, and the restoration of the dead to life all these striking and astonishing miracles, are at once forgotten, when he perceives that Jesus can suffer himself to be touched by one who had been a notorious sinner, without exhibiting any signs of loathing or repugnance. And " he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who, and what manner of woman this is which toucheth him, for she is a sinner.”
And did he not know what manner of woman she was? Needed he that any should tell him from what source these rivers of tears were flowing? Vain Pharisee! All the sins and offences which have stained the life of this contrite mourner, are as open to the inspection of him that sitteth at meat with thee, as are the unworthy suspicions of thine own proud heart. That uncharitable condemnation of thy fellow-sinner, that injurious doubt about the truth of the pretensions of thy guest, “ thou spakest within thyself.” But one is nigh thee to whom the inmost thoughts are known, and thy rebuke shall be open and immediate !—"And Jesus answering, (that which had been thought only, not uttered) said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee”. (observe, my brethren, the gentleness and calmness of this commencement) :“ There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and 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. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.” Immediately the decision of the Pharisee is directed against himself; and how forcibly and beautifully is the application made! “And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss : but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore, I say unto thee, her sins which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much ; but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him, began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also ?" There was no one among them who could answer this question. There was no one to argue-(as we might suppose that many would have been ready to argue)— Surely he who hath power to raise the dead, doth not overstep his authority, when he pronounces forgiveness of sins. And surely one who can thus create anew both the natural and moral man, by his own word and not by any delegated authority, must needs be that Messiah of whom both Moses and the prophets did speak—that Messiah appearing indeed not as we have been accustomed to expect him, in all the pomp
and grandeur of earthly sovereignty—but with the far more exalted symbols of spiritual dominion and supremacy.'Alas! there was not one found among them to reason after a manner which must appear to us so plain and conclusive. Taking no notice therefore of a question which their own reason should have enabled them to answer, our Saviour again addresses the woman, “ Thy faith hath saved thee-go in peace.”
It is scarcely possible, but that the mere perusal of this passage must have suggested the universal applicability of the lesson taught by it, and of the consolation to be derived from it. If there be among us any conscience-stricken sinner, --(and I trust, my brethren, that there are many such, for sinners we all are, but not all it is to be hoped so confirmed in sin, as to be dead to a painful sense of it)if there be any who know the miseries of a wounded spirit, whose hearts are disquieted within them by the remembrance of past transgression, and the acknowledgment of present infirmity, and whose
souls consequently are athirst for the God of comfort and consolation, and yearn to come into his presence for pardon and peace-if there be any such here assembled, they will not consider it a sight in which they can have no interest, when they behold this woman of the city which was a sinner, standing behind the couch whereon our Lord was reclining, and bending over his feet, to wipe from them with the hairs of her head, the streams of penitence with which she had washed them.—They will not think it a matter in which they can have no interest, when they perceive that Christ hath somewhat to say, by way of comment on her behaviour.–And last of all, when they hear the gracious words with which the scene concludes, “ Thy sins are forgiven”—“thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace;" they will be ready to cry out, “ of whom speaketh the prophet these things ?"-of this woman only? or even of us, and of all mourning penitents ?
If we would apply the passage then to our own edification, if we would learn