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inference of the prophet, “Thou hast a whore's forehead, thou canst not blush :" there cannot be a greater sign of whorishness than impudence. This woman can now blush ; she hath put off the harlot, and is turned true penitent. Bashfulness is both a sign and effect of grace. O God, could we but bethink how wretched we are in nature, how vile through our sins, how glorious, holy, and powerful a God thou art, before whom the brightest angels hide their faces, we could not come but with a trembling awfulness into thy presence!

Together with shame, here is sorrow; a sorrow testified by tears, and tears in such abundance, that she washes the feet of our Saviour with those streams of penitence; "She began to wash his feet with tears. We hear when she began, we hear not when she ended. When the grapes are pressed, the juice runs forth ; so, when the mind is pressed, tears distil, the true juice of penitence and sorrow. These eyes were not used to such clouds, or to such showers; there was nothing in them formerly but sunshine of pleasure, beams of lust; now they are resolved into the drops of grief and contrition. Whence was this change, but from the secret working of God's Spirit ? “He caused his wind to blow, and the waters flowed; he smote the rock, and the waters gushed out.” O God, smite thou this rocky heart of mine, and the waters of repentance shall burst forth in abundance!

Never were thy feet, O Saviour, bedewed with more precious liquor than this of remorseful tears. These cannot be so spent, but that thou keepest them in thy bottle, yea thou returnest them back with interest of true comfort: “They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. Blessed are they that mourn.” Lo this wet seed-time shall be followed with a harvest of happiness and glory.

That this service might be complete, as her eyes were the ewer, so her hair was the towel for the feet of Christ. Doubtless, at a feast, there was no want of the most curious linen for this purpose. All this was nothing to her: to approve her sincere humility, and hearty devotion to Christ, her hair shall be put to this glorious office. The hair is the chief ornament of womanhood: the feet, as they are the lowest part of the body, so the meanest for account, and homeliest for employment; and, lo, this penitent bestows the chief ornament of her head on the meanest office, to the feet of her Saviour. That hair which she was wont to spread as a net to catch her amorous companions, is honoured with the employment of wiping the beautiful feet of him that brought the glad tidings of peace and salvation ; and, might it have been any service to him to have licked the dust under those feet of his, how gladly would she have done it! Nothing can be mean that is done to the honour of a Saviour.

Never was any hair so preferred as this. How I envy those locks that were graced with the touch of those sacred feet, but much more those lips that kissed them! Those lips that had been formerly inured to the wanton touches of her lascivious lovers, now sanctify themselves with the testimony of her humble homage and dear respects to the Son of God. Thus her ointment, hands, eyes, hair, lips, are now consecrated to the service of Christ her Saviour, whom she had offended. If our satisfaction be not in some kind proportionable to our offence, we are no true penitents.

All this while I hear not one word fall from the mouth of this woman.

What need her tongue speak, when her eyes spake, her hands spake ? her gesture, her countenance, her whole carriage was vocal. I like this silent speaking well, when our actions talk, and our tongues hold their peace. The common practice is contrary; men's tongues are busy, but their hands are still. All their religion lies in their tongue; their hands either do nothing, or ill, so as


their profession is but wind, as their words. Wherefore are words, but for expression of the mind ? if that could be known by the eye or by the hand, the language of both were alike. There are no words amongst spirits, yet they perfectly understand each other. “The heavens declare the glory of God.” All tongues cannot speak so loud as they that have

Give me the Christian that is seen and not heard. The noise that our tongue makes in a formality of profession, shall, in the silence of our hands, condemn us for hypocrites.

The Pharisee saw all this, but with an evil eye. Had he not had some grace, he had never invited such a guest as Jesus; and if he had had grace enough, he had never entertained such a thought as this of the guest he invited: “If this man were a prophet, he would have known what manner of woman it is that toucheth him, for she is a sinner.”

How many errors in one breath! justly, O Simon, hath this one thought lost thee the thank of thy feast. Belike, at the highest, thou judgest thy guest but a prophet; and now thou doubtest whether he were so much. Besides this undervaluation, how unjust is the ground of this doubt! Every prophet knew not every thing ; yea, no prophet ever knew all things. Elisha knew the very secrets of the Assyrian privy-chamber; yet he knew not the calamity of his worthy hostess. The finite knowledge of the ablest seer reaches but so far as it will please God to extend it. Well might he therefore have been a prophet, and, in the knowledge of greater matters not have known this.

Unto this, how weakly didst thou, because of Christ's silent admission of the woman, suppose him ignorant of her quality! as if knowledge should be measured always by the noise of expression. Stay but a while, and thou shalt find, that he well knew both her life and thy heart. Besides, how injuriously dost thou take this woman for what she was! not

conceiving, as well thou mightst, were not this woman a convert, she would never have offered herself into this presence. Her modesty and her tears bewray her changed; and if she be changed, why is she censured for what she is not ?

Lastly, how strongly did it savour of the leaven of thy profession, that thou supposedst were she what she was, that it could not stand with the knowledge and holiness of a prophet to admit of her least touch, yea of her presence! whereas, on the one side, outward conversation in itself makes no man unclean or holy, but according to the disposition of the patient; on the other, such was the purity and perfection of this thy glorious guest, that it was not possibly infectible, nor any way obnoxious to the danger of others' sin. He that said once, “Who touched me?" in regard of virtue issuing from him, never said, Whom have I touched ? in regard of any contagion incident unto him. We sinful creatures, in whom the prince of this world finds too much, may easily be tainted with other men's sins. He, who came to take away the sins of the world, was incapable of pollution by sin. Had the woman there been still a sinner, thy censure of Christ was proud and unjust.

The Pharisee spake, but it was within himself; and now, behold, "Jesus answering, said."

What we think, we speak to our hearts, and we speak to God; and he equally hears, as if it came out of our mouths. Thoughts are not free. Could men know and convince them, they would be no less liable to censure, than if they came forth clothed with words. God, who hears them, judges of them accordingly. So here, the heart of Simon speaks, Jesus answers."

Jesus answers him, but with a parable. He answers many a thought with judgment; the blasphemy of the heart, the murder of the heart, the adultery of the heart, are answered by him with a real vengeance.

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For Simon, our Saviour saw his error was either out of simple ignorance, or weak mistaking; where he saw no malice, then it is enough to answer with a gentle conviction. The convictive answer of Christ is by way of parable. The wisdom of God knows how to circumvent us for our gain ; and can speak that pleasingly by a prudent circumlocution, which right down would not be digested. Had our Saviour said in plain terms, Simon, whether dost thou or this sinner love me more ? the Pharisee could not for shame but have stood upon his reputation, and, in a scorn of the comparison, have protested his exceeding respects to Christ. Now, ere he is aware, he is fetched in to give sentence against himself, for her whom he condemned. O Saviour, thou hast made us fishers of men ; how should we learn of thee, so to bait our hooks, that they may be most likely to take! Thou, the great householder of thy church, hast provided victuals for thy family, thou hast appointed us to dress them: if we do not so cook them, as that they may fit the palates to which they are intended, we do both lose our labour and thy cost. The parable is of two debtors to one creditor; the one owed a lesser sum, the other a greater: both are forgiven. It was not the purpose of him that propounded it, that we should stick in the bark : God is our creditor, our sins our debts; we are all debtors, but one more deep than another. No man can pay this debt alone, satisfaction is not possible; only remission can discharge us.

God doth in mercy forgive as well the greatest as the least sins. Our love to God is proportionable to the sense of our remission. So then the Pharisee cannot choose but confess, that the more and greater the sin is, the greater mercy in the forgiveness ; the more mercy in the forgiver, the greater obligation and more love in the forgiven.

Truth, from whose mouth soever it falls, is worth taking up: our Saviour praises the true judgment of

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