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absolute and original decree of God, and to say that God reprobated the non-elect because he hated them, and that he made them to hate them, and render them miserable, and for no other purpose. This system would indeed be awful, but it would have the merit of being consistent with itself. Its repugnance to the benevolence of the human heart, has led many to endeavor to incorporate with it the mild doctrine of Jesus. Hence it is declared, that although God will punish some men without mercy and without ead, he loves them all, and wills the salvation of all, and sent his blessed Son to die for all. This is putting the new wine into the old bottle ; and the result inevitably wili be, that the old bottle will perish ; as Paul says of the doctrines of men, “which all are to perish with the using.” Col. ii. 22. Every person in the exercise of coinmon sense will unquestionably conclude, that if God loves all men, and desires their salvation, and sent his Son to die for all, there is no danger that he will punish any unmercifully and endlessly; and thus the very attempt to patch the old doctrine of endless misery, will bring it into disrepute, and at last cause it to be very generally rejected.
Parable of the Debtors.
LUKE VII. 41, 42.
“There was a certain creditor, which had two debtors : the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both."
We have, in this parable, an instance of the facility with which our Saviour would throw together, at the moment, a train of circumstances in the forin of a fable, for the purpose of producing in his proud and watchful opponents the strongest feelings of self-condemnation. To understand the parable, and the ubject of Jesus in uttering it, we shall find it necessary to take into consideration the principal events that are narrated in the context.
In verse 36 it is said, “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with bin. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat.' Here it should be reinarked first, that the Pharisees were that class of people, who, above all others, most bitterly opposed the Son of God. This Pharisee does not seein to have had any good object in inviting Jesus to his house. He certainly neglected the usual offices of respect in receiving a stranger; and the probability is, that the invitation was given, in the hope that Jesus during the visit would say or do something, that the Pharisee might turn to his disadvantage.
Verses 37 and 38, And, behold, a woman in the city which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisce's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet be
hind him weeping, and hegan to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed thern with the ointment. This woman was said to be a sinnerprobably she was generally known as such. She had heard of the fame of Jesus, and of his tenderness to sinners, and learning that he was at the house of Simon, she obtruded herself upon his presence. She brought an alabaster box of ointment. In eastern countries, where the climate is very hot, perfumes are in frequent use; and it was usual to anoint the heads of such as were thought worthy of distinguished attention, with some kind of perfume. She is said, in the common version, to have stood at his feet, behind him, weeping. How was it possible, while Jesus sat at the table, that the woman could stand at his feet behind him? Dr. Campbell says,
"she must in that case have been under the table. The chairs on which the guests were seated, would have effectually precluded access from behind.” The difficulty is removed, if we reflect, that the Jews did not sit when they took their meals, but reclined upon couches. by which the table was surrounded, so that their feet extended out from the table on every side. In this position the feet were presented to any person who approached the table from without. The woman began to wash his feet with tears. The Jews wore no stockings, as we do; and before they reclined on their couches at meals, they put off their sandals, which had no upper leather, and were tied about with strings called latchets. Frequent washing of the feet was therefore necessary, and as a matter of civility, the feet
1 This subject is considered at large in Campbell's Prelim. Diss. viii. p. iii. sec. 36.
of visitors were washed by the Jews-a civility, however, that the Pharisee had neglected to show to Jesus. The penitent sinner, who had entered the house, poured upon the feet of Jesus a flood of tears, wiped them with the hair of her head, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. These were all expressions of high respect and reverence.
Verse 40. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him, saw it, he spake within hiniself, saying, this man, if he were a prophet, would have known who, and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him,- for she is a sinner.' This was the test with Simon. Holy people, as he supposed, would have no intercourse with the unholy, not so much as to be even touched by them. Jesus did not drive this sinner from his presence with indignation, he permitted her to wash and anoint his feet, and this was sufficient to convince Simon, that he was not a prophet, but a vile impostor. These were his secret musings, and conclusions. Jesus knowing his thoughts said, ver. 40, 'I have somne: what to say unto thee.' He rejoined, “Master, say on ;' and then Jesus spoke the parable before us. " There was a certain creditor, which had two debtors : the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.”
It will now be perceived at once, that Jesus uttered this parable to justify his own conduct in relation to the woman, to produce in Simon the feeling of self-condemnation, and to shew him, that although he thought this woman a very great sinner, and although she actually was a sinner, yet he was the greater sinner of the two. After showing that the creditor fully and frankly forgave both his debtors, Jesus asks Simon this question : tell me, therefore, which will love hiin most.' Ver. 42. The case was so evident, that Simon could not but answer correctly, and just as Jesus intended he should answer-and in a manner too directly calculated to condenın himself-'I suppose that he to whom he forgave inost.' Ver. 43. To this Jesus says, thou has rightly judged,' and immediately proceeds to make the application. He contrasts the coldness with which Simon had received him, with the warmth of this woman's love ; and love and gratitude being the essence of pure religion, he had made Simon acknowledge, in the case of the forgiven debtor, that as the woman had had more sins forgiven, and therefore loved more than he, so he, of course, was the greater sinnur of the two.' He said unto Simon, seest thou this woman? I entered into thy house, thou gavest me no water for iny feet.' Thou didst not receive me with customary civility. But she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss,' the usual sign of welcome, but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. Mine head with oil thou didst not anoint, but this woman hath anointed
feet with ointment. Whercfore, I say unto thee, her sins which are inany, are forgiven; therefore she loved much ; but to whom little is forgiven the same loveth little.' Vers. 44–47. Here the case stood before Simon in such a form as would enable him to understand it. The parable was framed for his benefit, and intended to suit his views of himself. In his own estimation he had sinned little, and he was the debtor who owed
1 I follow the best commentators in rendering oti therefore. See Bp. Pearce, A. Clarke, Kenrick, Campbell, Whitby, Hammond, &c