« PreviousContinue »
he invites you to is, that you would be wise, holy, and happy and shall his importunity be in vain? If so, that hand which is now extended towards you, will one day be stretched out against you. If you shut Christ out of your heart, he will shut you out of heaven; and his forbearance slighted will turn to provoked wrath and indignation. Matt. xi. 22. Heb. ii. 3. xii. 25.
Doth God invite me to his arms,
And do I still delay?
Shall he impart his just commands,
Doth Jesus call me to rely
Hath not the holy Spirit yet
Withdrawn his influence?
Immers'd in earth and sense?
By mercy wooed, by wrath pursued,
Rouze up, my dull inactive powers,
LUKE Vii. 38.
And she stood at Jesus' feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
THIS history begins at the 37th verse, and furnishes us with this useful hint of instruction ;-that the greatest sinners may be the objects of distinguishing love, and the trophies of divine mercy. We have an instance of this in Manasseh. If ever there was a monster of a man upon earth, he was one. If he had not entered into an explicit covenant with the devil, which some have supposed, yet by his works he owned him as his father; and by sacrificing his children to him, he acknowledged him as his god. Yet by the power of divine grace this obdurate sinner was turned into a broken hearted saint. A similar instance we have now before us. The woman here spoken of is in the foregoing verse called a sinner ; that is, one of a profligate and infamous character : so that the Pharisee, in whose house Christ now was, wondered that he should suffer her to approach him. Yet her present conduct bespeaks her a sincere convert, a real christian. Those members which had been instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, are now
used to express the ardour of her love, and the sincerity of her repentance.
In the conduct of this penitent we may observe the following particulars :
1. Her deep humility: " She stood at the feet of Jesus." Mary, the sister of Martha, sat at the feet of Jesus, which might signify the calm, settled, and composed state of her mind. But this woman stood; a posture which denote humility, reverence and fear. She stood like a servant in waiting, ready to put in practice what she had designed for his honour. A sense of his excellency, and her own unworthiness, deeply humbled her: she never before saw Christ so amiable, nor herself so odious. The greatest sinners, when called by divine grace, often become the humblest saints. Thus Paul considered himself as the chief of sinners; as less than the least of all saints; as the least of the apostles, and not meet to be called an apostle, because he had persecuted the church of God. 1 Tim. i. 13. Eph. iii. 8. 1 Cor.
2. Observe the holy shame of this penitent: "She stood at Jesus' feet behind him." Such was the beauty of his holiness that she was ashamed, and such the glory of his majesty that she was afraid to look him. in the face. She did not turn her back upon him; but intimated by the whole of her conduct, that she deserved that he should turn his back upon her. Like the publican, who durst not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, she stood behind the Saviour to conceal her blushing face. She was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because she did bear the reproach of her youth.
3. Her unfeigned sorrow: "She stood behind him weeping." Those eyes which had been the inlets of temptation and sin, now become the outlets of godly sorrow. Those eyes which had been full of adultery, were now full of tears, and flow with penitential
grief. She wept to think what she had done against Christ, and what Christ had done for her. These were not hypocritical or fictitious tears. She did not, like the woman of Tekoah, feign herself a mourner; but was really one. These tears did not arise from the softness of her temper, but the kindness of her heart; not from natural causes, but spiritual affection, and a sanctified disposition of mind. Though the shedding of tears is not always an evidence of grace, nor the want of them a sign of a graceless state, yet particular notice is taken of weeping saints in scripture. Thus, Jacob wept and made supplication. David had so much grief, that his tears became his meat day and night, and he mingled his drink with his weeping. The great apostle of the gentiles served God with many tears. The good man need not be ashamed of his tears; they are his principal ornament. They may seem to us like water spilt upon the ground; but they are carefully preserved, and shall be graciously rewarded. If Paul was mindful of the tears of Timothy, surely God will not be regardless of those of his people: he will write them in his book, and put them in his bottle. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
4. Her sorrow was not only sincere, but abundant : "She stood weeping, and washed his feet with tears.”· It was not a sudden gust, but a continual flow. Like Peter when he had received that heart-melting look from Christ, she wept bitterly. Such was the abundance of her tears, that she washed her Lord's feet with them. She who had grieved and provoked him by her sins, was now ready to submit to the meanest office to do him honour. It was an instance of great humility in Abigail, who said in answer to David's message, Let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the fect of the servants of my lord and none so likely, none so fit to be preferred, as those who humble and
abase themselves. Christ had cleansed the soul of this poor sinner, and she is now allowed to wash his feet; nor could her tears be applied to a better pur
5. Witness the ardour of her love to Christ: "She kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment." Her soul was melted under a sense of the mercy she enjoyed: she loved much, because much had been forgiven her. Her affection was in some measure proportioned to the greatness of that compassion which had been shewn her. The branch of the Lord was now beautiful and glorious in the eyes of this pardoned sinner. She could do or suffer any thing, so that Christ might be glorified. She had been delivered from great wrath, and purged from great sins; and tears of grief could ne'er repay the debt of love she owed. No sacrifice is now too great. The ointment, though very precious, and perhaps might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, is now poured out, not on the Saviour's head, but on his feet. He whom the Father had anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, is now anointed with the rich perfumes of the penitent. A pardoned sinner will think no expense too great, whereby he may honour Christ, or testify his love to him. Being precious to his own soul, he wishes. to render him so to the souls of others. When Nicodemus had wrapped the lifeless body of the Saviour in fine linen, laid it upon a costly bed of spices, and in a new sepulchre which had been hewn out of the rock, this did not satisfy the good women; but they returned and prepared more spices and ointments for that purpose. As Christ gave himself a sacrifice, and an offering, of sweet smelling savour to God; so we should endeavour to diffuse the savour of his name in every place where we come. We cannot now anoint his feet; but we may embalm his name, his cause and interest upon earth. If the christian