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gross self-deception. Deception, I mean, not as to the correctness, or incorrectness of the view here taken of man's moral condition with this point we have nothing to do-but as to the practical effect produced upon the individual's own heart.
. It is not improbable that he may mistake the loud reiteration of the particular doctrine for a conviction of its applicability to his own case ; and may rest satisfied with acknowledging this general sinfulness of man, without examining in what particulars his own heart is affected by it.
That some such results do arise, the close observer will not, I think, be inclined to dispute. It will not be denied, that sometimes he who is the loudest in his declamation against the universal corruption of our nature, and the bitterest in his invective against sin and wickedness generally, yet fails to appreciate his own share of that wickedness, or to perceive that there may be self-complacency all the while in his clamorous contrition, and pride in his ostentatious humility. Repentance to be sincere, must be specific
and particular-and when it is so, when each particular sin recorded by the conscience, and now brought forward in review, stands before us in all its hideousness, there will be no room for words or show, there will be no thought about the sinfulness of our nature generally-but with hands smiting upon our breasts, and scarce daring so much as to lift up our eyes to heaven,—we shall seek to come into the presence of Christ, though but “ to stand at his feet behind him, and wash them with our tears."
But if the resolved, though unobtrusive demeanour of this woman would lead us to conclude that her repentance was sincere, so we may gather from it also, that her faith was unhesitating. If she did not fully and implicitly believe that Christ could relieve her, what did she where she was ?—Why risk encountering scorn and obloquy, unless convinced that she was coming into the presence of one, who assuredly had power to heal her troubled conscience ?-And, in this respect again, contrast her conduct with that of the Pharisee. We have already
seen that his half convictions vanished before the first difficulty that presented itself, trifling as that difficulty was. He could not quite understand how it was, that a propheta holy man of God, could suffer himself to be approached, and even touched by a sinner; and therefore all the wondrous manifestations of power and authority which he had previously displayed, were at once forgotten, and Simon began to doubt.
In the way of the contrite sinner, there were far more serious difficulties, had she stopped to notice them.
“ Who is this,” she might have asked, “ that forgiveth sins also ?" It is indeed, a part of the prophetic office to call us to repentance, but to pardon, is the sole privilege of God. “ What efficacy can there be in this man's word that it should blot out the records of my countless transgressions.” Many an objection of this kind, might have arisen to shake her confidence, but she would not give them a thought. She could not understand how Christ could raise the dead, but he had done it, and she firmly believed, that if he undertook to forgive sins, he would be found able to do that also.—My brethren, I need not waste your time in pointing out to you whether of the two is that faith in Christ which must be entertained by all those who hope to be saved by him.
The sins then of this woman, though many, were forgiven her, “ because she loved much,” and gave all the evidence in her power of the sincerity of that love.
The same forgiveness will be extended to us, my brethren, and upon the same conditions.-Does any one feel inclined to ask, how can I give proof of my
love for Jesus ?-Does it occur to any one to desire a test by which to ascertain whether or no his faith in Christ's blood, and his gratitude for Christ's sacrifice of himself be quick and lively ?-Some such test, and that, believe me, my brethren, no trifling or insufficient one, is this moment offered to you.—By whose command is that table spread ?—Under what circumstances was the command given ?For whom was its divine Founder about to die when the Feast of Love was instituted !- If it was Jesus Christ who uttered the command, “Do this in remembrance of me!”-if this was the last injunction given before his death of agony and torture, and if that death of agony was endured only that we might live for ever.
I will not ask you, my brethren, but I will entreat you to ask yourselves solemnly and deliberately—what sort of love that man must feel towards Christ, who, habitually turns his back upon an ordinance instituted under such affecting circumstances, and commemorative of an event on which all his hopes of salvation depend !-I know full well, that many are kept away from that table by a feeling -and in most instances a mistaken feeling of unworthiness. — To such persons I would say, Do you believe ?-Do you repent ?—Are you in charity with all men ? Nay rather, is it your wish your sincere and earnest desire to be brought into this
1 Luke xxii. 19.