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here described was, it is true, a finner. But did the most unfeigned and expressive sorrow carry no plea for pity ? Rigid and unrelenting virtue, is this the lesson thou teachest thy votaries? No. The virtuous heart is ever humane. At the fufferings of guilt it softens and melts; but with the tears of honest forrow and penitence it mingles its own, and with the most attracting and endearing fympathy fooths their pains, and mitigates their anguish.
3dly, Another fault with which the pharisce is chargeable, is this: It appears that he must have entertained very low and grovelling notions of the divine purity and perfection. He harbours not the least suspicion that his own worth is defective, or the least doubt that the divine favour may be withheld : he seems, on the contrary, to confider it as his due. What must this man think of that everlasting One in whose fight the Heavens are not clean, and who charges his angels with folly? While he extravagantly exalts his own merit, how must he have debased the Father of lights, whom the cherubims cannot behold without vailing their faces ? Could his divinity be really the pow
erful, erful, the jealous, the merciful, the glorious God of Moses and the prophets? Or was he not rather the imperfect, the weak, the partial being of his own imagination? Think not, my brethren, that in this his understanding was merely defective. Just opinions of the Deity scarce ever fail, especially where revelation is vouchsafed, to arise in the mind that is disciplined by virtue, and governed by good affections. The proud and the vicious, on the contrary, are shut out by their own folly from the knowledge of God, and have no discernment of the Most High. The Lord hateth a proud look, but he giveth grace unto the lowlyd. Thus an attention to the character of the pharisee shews us, that he was ruled by pride, and a confidence in his own merit; vices most unbecoming the nature and condition of man : that his heart was insensible to the language of sorrow, and estranged from the feelings of humanity, and that his conceptions of the supreme Being were altogether unsuitable and unworthy of his nature.
Let us now attend to a very different cha- , racter, I mean that of the penitent woman. Her humility and penitence render her the object both of our regard and instruction. This woman, who had been a sinner, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and while our Saviour was at meat, stood behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with her tears, and to wipe them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. These indications of her love and attachment, her humility and purposes of amendment found such acceptance with our Saviour, that he said unto her, Thy fins are forgiven thee.
Fain would man hope, even without revelation, that the tears and cries of a returning finner would bend the justice of the divinity, and incline him to mercy. Fain would nature lead us to ascribe a relenting temper to the Governor of the universe, like to that humanity, pity and compassion, which we discover in inan. But the trembling pinion of reason fails, when she foars to such fublime heights : and the report the brings is various, uncertain and confused. After the longest deliberation, the most sensible and
most natural prayer which a man, suspended between hope and fear, would offer to his Maker upon this subject, would be some such one as this : “O thou Sovereign of the uni“ verse, pour thy consolation into a heart
that is racked with doubts and disquiets, “s and dares neither distrust thy mercy, nor “ rely on thy favour.” It is revelation that properly describes the nature, and assures us of the efficacy of true repentance. These important and consolatory doctrines are difplayed to us in the instance we are now considering.
Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place
called Gethsemane, and faith to his disciples, fit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful, and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding forrowful, even unto death : tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, 0, my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me : nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and faith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the Spirit, indeed, is willing, but the flesh is weak.' He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O, my Father,