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men when they come to learn from him the way
of peace, but will rejoice in every opportunity of declaring to them that, in Christ, there is mercy with God for every one who repents and really looks to Him for salvation : and that He will indeed abundantly pardon all who believe in Him, and desire, through His grace, to forsake their sins.
And often, my dear child, some of those unhappy people, who have been led into grievous sins, receive the glad tidings of the Gospel and its precious promises of pardon more readily, and far more thankfully, than others, who, though very sinful (as indeed all are) in the sight of God, yet have lived with greater credit
among men. E. Yes, Mamma; for how much more the woman we have been talking about loved our Saviour than the proud Pharisee did !
M. Indeed she did; for observe how much reverence and love and gratitude she shewed towards Christ; how cold, and even neglectful, was the manner in which Simon had received Him! Simon gave Him no water for His feet, though it was the common custom of the country, to offer this refreshment to visitors. Nor did Simon salute Him, as manner in those days, with a kiss of friendship; nor anoint His head with reviving oil: whilst for water the woman had supplied her tears, and did not cease to kiss His feet; and instead of the oil, with which it was usual to anoint the head of the guest, she brought a rich ointment, and with that anointed, not the head, but the feet of our Lord. And from all this what must we conclude? What is the conclusion which our Lord Himself drew? surely it was one which
might have made Simon tremble, when he heard Jesus say, that, where there was so little love, there could not have been much forgiveness.
It is possible indeed that Simon, being a Pharisee, might be inclined to thank God that he was not like other
men, much less like this woman; and therefore perhaps he did not think that he much needed forgiveBut this only made his case the worse.
For all men are sinful before God; all need repentance; all require pardon; all would be for ever lost without a Saviour; and not to know this, is to be in the case of a sick man who thinks himself well, filled with a sore disease, yet supposing he has no need of the physician. Had Simon judged of himself aright, he would have thought no respect too great for the Saviour of sinners, no love too costly or too devoted towards one, who could blot out all his iniquities. He would have seen too, that whatever the woman of Nain might once have been, she was now an example for his imitation ; and instead of despising her, and being offended with our Lord's conduct towards her, He would have looked at both with wonder and admiration--wonder, at her overflowing sorrow, her deep humility, her fervent love; and oh! what wonder and admiration at the Saviour's mercy and the exceeding riches of His grace! Let us stop for a moment and re-consider both.
See how tenderly the Lord Jesus treated this penitent sinner, whom Simon would have driven away with disdain ; how minutely He notices each little particular in her conduct towards Him; the abundant tears with which she had bathed His feet; the deep reverence, and self-abasement, with which she had employed her own hair in wiping them; the love which had led her, without ceasing, to press them to her lips. Nothing was overlooked by Jesus. The least circumstance, which proved that, though once a wretched wanderer, she had now come back to His fold, was precious in His sight: for He is the good Shepherd, who loves all His sheep, and cannot bear that one of them should perish.
Whilst we dwell with delight on this fresh instance of our Lord's goodness, let us also try to take a lesson of love and gratitude, of reverence and humility, of penitence and faith, from her whose story has interested us so much. Hers was no common instance of sorrow for sin. See how it humbled her to the dust. She did not presume to present herself before our blessed Lord; she did not venture to speak one word, to offer one excuse for herself, or to ask one favour at His hands. To stand behind Him in the humblest posture; to be allowed, in some faint degree, to show her sorrow for her past offences, and her exceeding love for Him, whom she believed to be able and willing to blot them out—this was enough for her. And, in doing this, what extraordinary affection, and what extraordinary faith did she show! She must have believed that her Saviour loved her, and would forgive her all that she had done, or she would never have felt such exceeding love to Him; she would never have mourned so deeply over her own transgressions. Hers was a real and living faith, for it worked by love; it produced hearty sorrow for her sins, and love unmeasured and unfeigned towards Him, who came into the world to take away her sins; and thus, as Jesus said, her faith had saved her. She
might go away in peace. Peace, which had so long been a stranger to her heart, might return to it now and dwell there for ever; for her sins, though many, had been forgiven. Here, you see, are many points worthy of our imitation. For in reading of other people's sins, we must never forget how much we ourselves need pardon and mercy from God. We must think of our own numberless offences, which we have committed in thought, word, and deed, against His Divine Majesty; and how much we ought to love and bless that gracious Saviour, who died for our sins, that we might not die in them; but be restored, through His intercession, to peace now and to happiness for ever.
See Luke vii. 36-50.
TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY EVENING.
THE FAMILY OF CHRIST.
M. After performing two such gracious acts of mercy at Nain, as those I have mentioned to you, and, perhaps, many more which are not recorded, our blessed Lord made another journey throughout Galilee, going through every city and every village, and preaching in them the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: so unwearied was He in His labours of love for us men and our salvation. In this journey He was attended by the Apostles whom He had lately chosen, who were to be witnesses afterwards to the world of what He did and taught; and to learn from
His divine example how to labour themselves in extending the kingdom of God; and we read also of many women who followed Him, some of whom had received great mercies from Christ, being cured by Him of evil spirits and various infirmities, perhaps of many
sins too. One of them was called Mary Magdalen, out of whom our Lord cast seven evil spirits; how thankful must she have been to be delivered from this heavy yoke which Satan had put upon her, and to wear instead the easy yoke of Christ! Another was named Joanna; she was the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward.
E. What, Mamma! one of Herod's family amongst the followers of Christ !
M. Little indeed should we have expected to see one of Herod's household in the train of Jesus ? Surrounded, as she must have been, by all the luxuries and splendours, as well as by all the corruptions, of such a court, how much must she have had to break through, before she could have joined the disciples of the wandering and despised Saviour! But to God nothing is impossible. His grace can find its way into the palace as easily as into the cottage : can break through the strong-holds of sin and Satan, and maintain its ground even amidst the seducing pleasures and flatteries of courts. These two are mentioned particularly in the word of God as having followed Jesus, and as having been allowed to show their gratitude and love by supplying His wants out of their own substance : and there were
many others” who are not spoken of individually, who cast in their lot with Jesus upon earth, and whose names are no doubt recorded in His book of life. Blessed