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altogether, than to set off our own pitiful balance of good deeds, or supposed good deeds, as a reason why judgement should not be passed on us.
But further, it may not be useless to remark the disguises under which pride and self-conceit will sometimes enter into our hearts; and the manner in which men are led to form high thoughts of themselves, while they suppose that they are giving the glory to God alone, and ascribing to Him alone all the work of their salvation. The pharisee was ready enough to confess that it was of God alone that he was less wicked than other men. And I have met with many serious persons who not only acknowledged this, but affected to lay an exceeding stress on the doctrine, who yet were strangely proud of their own supposed place in God's favour as His elect, His chosen, His brands plucked forth from the burning, and no less ready than the pharisee to make comparisons between themselves and other men, and bless God that they were more strict in their lives, more holy in their hearts, than such or such poor lost creature, who never attended church or meeting, or who was altogether uninformed or unconvinced of certain doctrines in which, whether truly or falsely, they placed the sum and substance of Christianity.
How offensive such conduct must be to God, a moment's consideration will convince us.
" What hast thou to do with thy neighbour's guilt or innocence ?” Who art thou that judgest another man's servant ? To his own master he standeth or fall
eth?." “ Yea he shall be holden up if he acknowledges his sin and endeavours to forsake it; when thou, with all thy greater advantages and greater proficiency, mayst mourn, perhaps too late, thy own presumption and want of charity.”
There is a history told in one of the eastern writers which, for the moral which it affords, is here not unfit to be mentioned, of a certain youth who gave himself up to severe devotion, and passed whole nights in the study of the Scriptures and in prayer.
“ Behold,” he said to his father, “how these have forgotten their God, while I alone am waking to His word and to His service !" my son,” was that wise father's reply, “ it were better that thou hadst slept till the day of judgement than that thou shouldest thus wake to trust in thyself that thou art righteous, and to speak evil of thy brethren.” He was a Mahometan who spake thus; but from him it were well if very many Christians would learn that, do all they may, it is not for them to institute comparisons with the weakest and most unhappy of God's creatures.
Yet a few words to the occasion for which we have many of us, I trust, during the last week, been making preparation. Do we come, like this pharisee, trusting in ourselves? Do we come, like this pharisee, inclined to condemn our neighbours ? Or do we come in the deep sense of our own weakness, in the sorrowful recollection of our own misdeeds,
1 Romans xiv. 4.
in the earnest desire to forsake our evil ways, and in the hope, a sure and certain hope, that on us who acknowledge ourselves sinners, the Lord will show abundant mercy? We have a more painful knowledge than even the publican described by our Lord could possess of the danger of sin, and its great offensiveness in the eyes of our Maker; inasmuch as we know, which he could not, that to obtain pardon for the sins of the world, it was necessary that God Himself should give us His beloved Son to be offered as a bloody sacrifice. We have a more certain and blessed hope than this penitent publican enjoyed; inasmuch as that atonement, which he only knew through figures and prophecies, we have known and felt as a historical and spiritual certainty; so that not only by the blood of bulls and of goats, but by the pure and sinless blood of the blessed Jesus, we look to have our sins done away, and our pardon sealed, and a more blessed strength to be hereafter given us to the forsaking of every evil way, and the purifying of our conscience towards God.
Let us only not be wanting to ourselves; let us only seek His grace through its appointed channels, and bending low before His altar, and receiving with deep humility the pledges of His peace, let us renounce all hope but in Him alone, and cry out each of us in our hearts to Him who is ready to hear and to save, God be merciful to me a sinner!
THE GOOD SAMARITAN.
[Preached at Delhi, Jan. 2, 1825.]
St. LUKE X. 36, 37. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him
that fell among the thieves ? And he said, he that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
The discourses which Christ delivered to the
people in the form of parables, may be classed under three descriptions. Some of them are short and simple stories intended for our example only, or to explain His doctrine. Such is the parable of the unjust judge, which has no hidden meaning, and is merely introduced to illustrate the force of continued prayer. In some again, such as those where He likens the kingdom of Heaven to a marriage supper, a vineyard let out to husbandmen, and a sower scattering seed, He describes in obscure language, and under the form of an allegory, His own dealings with mankind, and the future fortunes of the Christian Church. Thirdly, there are some which partake of both these kinds; they contain an inward and doctrinal meaning, which refers to the
faith of Christians, and a practical lesson, if they are taken according to the letter, which is a guide and example to their lives. In both these ways the parable of the good Samaritan affords us valuable instruction. If taken according to the letter, it is a beautiful example of charity; and if we go further into its meaning, and see, as I shall presently explain, the Son of God represented by this benevolent traveller, we then are taught to derive our love for mankind from the love which Christ has shown to us, and His example is enforced by our gratitude.
One of the teachers of the law of Moses, the same order of men who are elsewhere called scribes, had endeavoured to ensnare our Saviour by the solemn question, “ what shall I do to inherit eternal life'?" How this question was to ensnare does not immediately appear; it might be to draw from Him something contrary to the law of Moses, or offensive to the prejudices of the people ; it might be accompanied by an insulting tone or manner, as if to say, “what are these mighty discoveries which prophets and kings have desired in vain ?" At all events, it was asked from motives of ill-will, and in the hope to injure Christ. Our Lord, in His answer, refers him to the passage in Deuteronomy which, from his office, he read publicly every Sabbath. “ What is written in the law ?” are His words, “ How readest thou ?” The lawyer replies,
St. Luke x. 19.