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anchor fastened within the veil, which buoys up their despondent hearts. Yes, even then they can enter into the feelings which prompted the prophet of old to exclaim, with the unconquerable energy of faith-"Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." This, brethren, is the language of a soul into which the Spirit of the Most High has shed his selectest influence. And it is language which may well be adopted in view of the substantial, ever-during blessings which religion imparts—blessings which, when earth with all its scenes and pursuits has vanished, shall remain the unalienable inheritance of the redeemed—blessings subject to no change, except so far as they are destined to gather new brightness and fulness from the revolutions of eternity. 0! what an animating thought is this! Who can conceive the thrill of ecstacy which it must diffuse among the inhabitants of heaven! Yes, the conviction that the good part which they have chosen, shall not be taken away from them, is a primary element—the grand vivifying principle of the happiness which they enjoy. Deprive them of this conviction—tell them that they shall not be ever with the Lord”—publish to them the intelligence, that at some coming period, no matter how remote, their lot must alter, and what would be the consequence? Every harp would be unstrung, every countenance would droop, and the awful stillness of despair would reign throughout their ranks:
“ Could they, so rich in rapture, fear a change,
But an apprehension of this kind can never force its perturbing way into the rest that remaineth for the people of God. The participants of that rest know that their peace and bliss are secured beyond the possibility of molestation. They feel that their condition is unchangeablethat their fate is mysteriously linked, if we may be allowed so to speak, with that of the High and Holy One bimself.
And now, dear hearers, what is the conclusion of the whole matter? It is this : Have you obtained the one thing needful? We would press the query on the conscience of every individual before us. We have attempted to show and we presume you will hardly deny that the blessings of religion are infinitely valuable. They are blessings, in comparison with which the choicest advantages that earth can yield, are but “as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away." Wealth may be dissipated by a thousand casualties. Honour may be rudely torn from the brow that wears it. Pleasure, in its fairest and most enchanting forms, is evanescent as the shadow of the dial. But the happiness which religion confers, instead of coming to an end, is destined to last and expand for ever. Believe us, then, it matters not what may be your acquisitions, and what your enjoy. ments, so long as you are destitute of the one thing needful. Without the assurances of religion, how intolerable must be the sense of sin ! Without the consolations of religion, how cheerless must be the day of affliction ! Without the prospects of religion, how gloomy must be the hour of sickness! And without at once the assurances, the consolations, and the prospects the whole combined power of religion, how awful must be the article of death! Ah! there are periods in the earthly career of every impenitent sinner, no matter how apparently
prosperous and externally happy may be his conditionperiods in which he realizes the utter worthlessness of all terrestrial objects, and sighs for a tranquillity and a satisfaction which he cannot find. A more miserable being is not to be met with in the wide range of existence, than the man who knows—who feels, that religion is the one thing needful, and yet remains a stranger to its comforts and its joys. He may be said, almost without a figure, to endure, not inerely the torment of unquenchable thirst, but like the fabled Tantalus, the additional aggravation of a stream regularly promising to approach his lips, and as regularly receding in mockery away.
It is folly, then-nay, it is madness, to postpone the business of religion. Seek then at once, dear hearers, the one thing needful. Choose, this very morning, “ that good part, wbich shall not be taken away from you.”
« And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he
went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And behold, a woman in the city which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster-box of ointment, and stood at his 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. Now, when the Pharisee which had bidden him, saw it, he spake within himself, 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. And Jesus answering, said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. 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. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house; thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss; but this woman, since the time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And they that sat at meat with him, began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
It was distinctly foretold, in the prophecies of the Old Testament, that when the Messiah should appear in our world, he would meet with a reception by no means suited to the excellence of his character, and the important object of his divine mission. This prediction was literally verified. He came to his own, and his own received him not. He grew up as a tender plant, and as
a root out of a dry ground; and when he entered on the duties of his public ministry, he seemed without form or comeliness; the generality of those who saw him, discerned no beauty that they should desire him. All classes of the community contemplated him with distrust, while the wealthy and the influential-particularly those in the high places of the temple and the synagogue--dis. played a keen and an active hostility to his pretensions and his person.
There were a few, however, even among the opulent and distinguished citizens of Judea, who rose superior to prejudice, and perceived, that Jesus of Nazareth was no ordinary man. of this description also was Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy individual, who obtained from Pi. late the crucified body of Christ, and caused it to be properly interred in his own sepulchre. And of this description too was the Pharisee, concerning whom we read in the passage which we have chosen for comment this morning. It does not, indeed, appear, that he entertained any
correct views as to the cbaracter and office of our Lord. But he must have formed a favourable opinion, however vague, of one whom, though poor and friendless, he invited to become his guest.
Who this Pharisee was, is a question which critics have not been able exactly to settle. That his name was Simon, is evident form the fortieth verse, and hence some have been led to identify him with Simon the leper, who resided in Bethany, and at whose house Jesus was partaking of a meal, when a female entered and manifested her affectionate regard for him, in a manner similar to what is here recorded. We shall not enter into the controversy, whether the four evangelists allude to the same occurrence, or whether the circumstance related by Luke