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guished their zeal by taking as much pains to version, that can elude the force and evidence envenom controversies, as they ought to have of it: “a creditor had two debtors, he forgave taken to conciliate them; and when they ought the one five hundred pence, and the other fiftv, to serve true religion by aggravating the errors the first will love him most." Undoubtedly of opposite religions. On these principles, this love is the effect, and not the cause of the such as took the words of the text in the first acquittance of the debt. On the contrary, the sense taxed the other side with subverting the reason on which the second opinion is founded whole doctrine of free justification; for, said may be easily answered. It is grounded on they, if the pardon here granted to the sinner this expression, “Her sins are forgiven, for she be an effect of her love to Jesus Christ, what loved much.” The original reading is capable become of all the passages of Scripture, which of another sense. Instead of translating " for say, that grace, and grace alone, obtains the she loved much,” the words may be rendered remission of sin? They of the opposite senti- without any violence to the Greek text, “her ment accused the others with subverting all sins are forgiven, and because of that,” or the grounds of morality; for, said they, if this account of that she loved much.” There are woman's love to Jesus Christ be only an effect many examples of the original term being taken of pardon, it clearly follows, that she had been in this sense. We omit quotations and proofs pardoned before she exercised love: but if this only to avoid prolixity. be the case, what become of all the passages of We must then suppose, that the tears now the gospel, which make loving God a part of shed by this woman were not the first, which the essence of that faith without which there she had shed at the remembrance of her sins. is no forgiveness. Do you not see, my breth. She had already performed several penitential ren, in this way of disputing, that unhappy exercises under a sense of forgiveness, and the spirit of party, which defends the truth with repetition of these exercises proceeded both the arins of falsehood; the spirit that has from a sense of gratitude for the sentence procaused so many ravages in the church, and nounced in her favour, and from a desire of which is one of the strongest objections that receiving a ratification of it. On this account the enemy of mankind can oppose against a we have not assigned the fear of punishment reunion of religious sentiments, so much desired as a cause of the grief of this penitent, as we by all good men? What then, may it not be ought to have done had we supposed that she affirmed in a very sound sense, that we love had not already obtained forgiveness. Our God before we obtain the pardon of our sins? | supposition supported by our comment on the Have we not declaimed against the doctrine of words of the text, in my opinion, throw great such divines as have advanced that attrition light on the whole passage. The Pharisee is alone, that is to say, a fear of hell without any offended because Jesus Christ suffered a wodegree of love to God was sufficient to open man of bad character to give him so many the gates of heaven to a penitent? Recourse tokens of her esteem. Jesus Christ makes at to the Saviour of the world, such a recourse as the same time an apology both for himself makes the essence of faith, ought it to have no and for the penitent.' He tells the Pharisee, other motive than that of desiring to enjoy the that the great esteem of this woman proceeds benefits of his sacrifice Should it not be ani- from a sense of the great favours, which she mated with love to his perfections? But on the had received from him that the Pharisee other hand, may it not also be said, in a sense thought he had given sufficient proof of his most pure, and most evangelically accurate, regard for Jesus Christ by receiving him into that true love to God is an effect of the pardon his house, without any extraordinary demonwe obtain of him? This love is never more strations of zeal, without giving him “water ardent, than when it is kindled at the flame to wash his feet, oil to anoint his head,” or of that which is testified in our absolution. Is “a kiss” in token of friendship; and that what our zeal for the service of God ever more fer- prevented him from giving greater marks of vent than when it is produced by a felt recon- esteem was his considering himself in the conciliation to him? Are the praises we sing to dition of the first debtor, of whom only a little his glory ever more pure, than when they rise gratitude was required, because he had been out of such motives as animate glorified saints, released from an obligation to pay only a small when we can say with them, " unto him that and inconsiderable sum: but that this woman loved us, and washed us from our sins in his considered herself in the condition of the other own blood, be glory, and dominion?” Rev. i. debtor, who had been forgiven “five hundred 5. Do different views of this text deserve so pence;" and that therefore she thought herself much wormwood and gall?
obliged to give her creditor the highest marks But what is the opinion of the Saviour of of esteem. * Seest thou this woman? I entered the world, and what would he answer to the into thine house, thou gavest me no water for question proposed? Was the pardon granted my feet: but she hath washed my feet with to the sinner the cause of her love, or the effect tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her of it? Which of the two ideas ought to pre- head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but she hath vail in our minds, that in the parable, or that not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil in the application of it? The opinion most thou didst not anoint: but she hath anointed generally received in our churches is, that the my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto love of this woman ought to be considered as thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven.” the effect of her pardon, and this appears to us On this account she hath loved much; and has the most likely, and supported by the best evit given me all these proofs of affection which dence for the reason on which this opinion are so far superior to those, which I have reis grounded, seems to us unanswerable. There ceived at your table," for he, to whom little is is neither a critical remark, nor a change of forgiven, loveth little.”
At length, Jesus Christ turns himself towards heart; the man, who assures you, that, after a the penitent, and, affected at her weeping thousand diligent and accurate investigations, afresh, repeats his assurances of forgiveness, he finds impenetrable depths of deception in the and appeases that sorrow, which the remem- heart; the man, who, from the difficulty of his brance of her crimes excited in her heart, own examinations derives arguments to engage though she no longer dreaded punishment. you not to be satisfied with a superficial know
Go," says he, “thy sins are forgiven thee... ledge of your conscience, but to carry the light Go in peace.”
of the gospel into the darkest recesses of your Ye rigid casuists, who render the path of heart; the man, who advises you over and over life strait, and difficult, ye, whose terrifying again, that if you content yourselves with a maxims are planted like briars and thorns in slight knowledge of yourselves, you must be the road of paradise; ye messengers of terror subject to ten thousand illusions, that you will and vengeance, like the dreadful angels who take the semblance of repentance for repentance with faining swords kept guilty men from at- itself, that you will think yourselves "rich tempting to return to the garden of Eden; and increased with goods," while you are ye who denounce only hell and damnation;" wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, come hither and receive instruction. Come and naked,” Rev. iii. 17. Is this the rigid and learn how to preach, and how to write, casuist, who offends and irritates you? and how to speak in your pulpits to your audi Perhaps, it is the man, who tells you that, tors, and how to comfort on a dying bed a in order to assure yourselves that you are in a man, whose soul hovers on his lips, and is just state of grace, you must love God with an esdeparting. See the Saviour of the world; be teem of preference, which will engage you to hold with what ease and indulgence he receives obey him before all his creatures; the man, this penitent. Scarcely had she begun to weep, who, judging by innumerable evidences that scarcely had she touched the feet of Jesus you prefer " serving the creature more than Christ with a little ointment, but he crowned the Creator,” Rom. i. 25; concludes from this her repentance, became her apologist, pardoned sad phenomenon that you have reason to during one moment of repentance the excesses tremble: the man, who advises you to spend of a whole life, and condescended to acknow- at least one week in recollection and retirement ledge for a member of "a glorious church, not before you partake of the Lord's Supper; the having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing," man, who would have you purify your hands this woman, and what kind of a woman? A from the blood of your brethren, and your woman guilty perhaps of prostitution, perhaps heart burning with hatred and vengeance, and of adultery, certainly of impurity and fornica- on that account placed in a catalogue of murtion. After this do you violently declaim derers' hearts, according to the spirit of the against conversion, under pretence that it is gospel: the man, who forbids you to come to not effected precisely at such time as you think the Lord's Supper while your wicked courses fit to appoint? Do you yet refuse to publish are only suspended instead of being reformed, pardon and forgiveness to that sinner, who in- and while your cruel exactions are only delaydeed has spent his whole life in sin, but who a ed instead of being entirely left off? Perhaps few moments before he expires puts on all the this is the man! Is this the rigid casuist, who appearance of true repentance, covers himself offends and irritates you? with sorrow, and dissolves himself in tears, Or, probably, it is the man, who has attendlike the penitent in the text, and assures you ed you three, four, or half a dozen times in fits that he embraces with the utmost fervour the of sickness, who then saw you covered with feet of the Redeemer of mankind?
tears, every time acknowledging your sins, and Do I deceive myself, my brethren. I think always calling heaven and earth to witness I see the audience quicken their attention. your sincere intention to reform, and to change This last reflection seems to suit the taste of your conduct, but who has always seen you most of my hearers. I think, I perceive some immediately on your recovery return to your reaching the right hand of fellowship to me, former course of life, as if you had never shed and congratulating me for publicly adjuring a tear, never put up a prayer, never made a this day of gloomy and melancholy morality, resolution, never appealed to heaven to attest more likely to drive sinners to despair than to your sincerity: the man, who concludes from reclaim them.
such sad events as these that the resolutions of How, my brethren, have we preached to sick and dying people ought always to be conyou so many years, and you after all so little sidered as extremely suspicious; the man, who acquainted with us as to imagine that we have tells you that during all his long and constant proposed this reflection with any other design attendance on the sick he has seldom seen one than that of showing you the folly of it? Or converted on a sick-bed, (for our parts, my rather are you so little acquainted with your brethren, we are mournful guarantees of this religion, with the spirit of the gospel in gene- awful fact, the man alarmed at these frightful ral, and with that of my text in particular, as examples, and slow to publish the grace of God to derive consequences diametrically opposite to dying people of a certain class; I say, proto the design of the inspired writers. And bably, this is the man, who offends you! Is not where, pray, are these barbarous men? Where this the cruel casuist, who provokes you? are these messengers of vengeance and terror? What! Is it the man, who sees the sentence Where are the casuists, whose maxims render of death written in your face, and your house the road to eternal life inaccessible. Who are of clay just going to sink, to whom you appear the nien, who thus excite your anger and in- more like a skeleton than a living body, and dignation? What! Is it the man, who has spent who fears every morning lest some messenger filly or sixty years in examining the human should inform him that you was found dead in
your bed, who fears all this from your own | knife of repentance, no passion so inveterate complaints? What am I saying? From your that she did not eradicate, no marks of love own complexion, from the alarms of your for her Saviour so tender that she did not with friends, and from the terrors of your own fa- all liberality express. Behold her eyes flowing mily; the man, who is shocked to see that all with tears over the feet of Jesus Christ, behold this makes no impression upon you, but that her hair dishevelled, her perfumes poured out, you live a life of dissipation and security, which behold all the character of sincerity, which we would be unpardonable in a man, whose firm have observed in our first paper. Is there any health might seem to promise him a long life; one mark of a true conversion which she does the man, who cries to you, “awake thou that bear? But you, how many reserves, how many sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ artifices have you? How many actions of your shall give thee light,” Eph. i. 11; improve the lives, which we must not be allowed to state remainder of life, the breath, which, though it to you in their true point of light? How many leaves thee to totter, prevents thy falling down tempers in your hearts, which must not yet be dead. Is this the man, the rigid casuist who touched? Here, it is an enemy, the bare sound offends and irritates you? Such maxims, such of whose name would increase your fever, and discourses, such books, such sermons, are they hasten your death. There, it is an iniquitous systems of morality, which confound you, and acquisition, which you reserve for your son to drive you to despair?
enable him to take your name with greater After all, where are the sinners whom these honour, and to support with more dignity that casuists have driven to despair? Where are vain parade, or rather that dust and smoke in those tormented and distracted consciences which you have all your life involved yourself. For my part, I see nothing, turn my eyes which Our penitent never deceived Jesus Christ: but way I will, but a deep sleep. I see nothing you, you have deceived your casuist a thousand but security, lethargy, insensibility. How is and a thousand times. Our penitent wept over it possible that the history of our text, that the the odious parts of her life, and, far from being language of Jesus Christ, “Woman, thy faith too proud to confess her sins, gloried in her hath saved thee, go in peace,” that the voice confession while she blushed for her crimes: of eternal truth should incline you to raise but your eyes, on the contrary, your eyes are objections full of error and illusion? Is there yet dry, and it is Jesus Christ, who is weeping no difference between your case and that of at your feet, it is he who is shedding tears over this penitent woman, none between Jesus Christ you, as formerly over Jerusalem, it is he who and your casuists? Is there any thing in which is saying, that “thou hadst known, even they agree? The casuist conversing with this thou, at least in this thy day, the things which penitent was a prophet, a prophet! he was a belong unto thy peace! O that my people God, who “searched the reins and the hearts," had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked who saw the bottom of her soul, and who in my ways!” Luke xix. 42; Ps. Ixxxi. 13. It penetrated through all the veils, with which a is not then to you, but it is to your kind of refrail human heart is covered, and beheld the pentance, that sentences of absolution ought to truth of her conversion and the genuineness of be refused. The repentance of the unchaste her grief: but you, my brethren, you have no woman was exactly conformable to the covesuch casuists, and we can judge only by exter- nant of grace, to the genius of the gospel, and nal performances, which ascertain your state to the end of the mission of Jesus Christ. Hence only on condition that they proceed from your from the mouth of the Saviour of the world heart. Our penitent lay prostrate at the feet proceeded, in spite of her former libertinism, in of the Lord of religion, who could save her, spite of the cruel censure of the Pharisee, and if he pleased, by extraordinary means, and who in spite of the murmuring of the guests, these could deliver her from death and hell by a comfortable words, “Woman, thy sins are forsingular effort of power, not to be repeated: given thee. Woman, thy faith haih saved thee. but your casuists are servants, who act by com- Go, depart in peace.” mission, under express directions and orders, Here, my brethren, the evangelist finishes and who have no right to announce peace till the history of the penitent woman! and here you answer the description given in the royal we will finish this discourse. There is, howinstrument. Such ministers, whatever assu ever, one circumstance, which St. Luke has rances of grace and pardon they affect to give, omitted, and which, if I may venture to say ought never to calm your consciences till you so, I wish he had recorded in the most severe have exactly conformed to the orders of their and circumstantial manner. What were the and your sovereign master. Our penitent came future sentiments of this woman after the couto ask pardon in a free and voluntary manner, rageous steps she had taken at her setting out? while she was in perfect health, all her actions What emotions did absolution produce in her were unconstrained and spontaneous; but you soul? What effects in her conscience did this wait till death hales you to the tribunal of God, language of the Saviour of the world cause, you loiter till the fear of eternal fames fright"Woman, thy sins are forgiven-thy faith hath you away from such pleasures as you continue saved thee-go in peace?" But there is nothing to love, and to which you would most likely in this silence that ought to surprise us. Her return again, did not God spare you the shame joy was not a circumstance that came under by not giving you an opportunity. The peni- the notice of the historian. In the heart of tent of our text did all she could in her circum- this frail woman, converted and reconciled to stances to express the truth of her repentance, God, lay this mystery concealed. There was there was no sacrifice so dear that she did not that's peace of God, which passeth all underoffer, no victim so valuable that she did not standing, that joy unspeakable and full of glory, stab, if I may use such an expression, with tho that white stone, and that new name, which
no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” | governing a state, regulating a large and exMay you receive it, my brethren, that you tensive commerce, and of arranging a variety may know it! May the grief of a lively and of systems, should entertain notions seemingly bitter repentance wound your hearts, that incompatible with the very least degree of inmercy may heal and comfort them, and fill telligence. On the other hand, we know not them with pleasure and joy! God grant us how to comprebend, that a course of action, this grace! To him be honour and glory for which is the natural effect of such notions, can Amen.
subsist without them.
Follow us a moment, my brethren, into
these labyrinths of the human heart, or rather SERMON LIX.
let us endeavour to know ourselves, and to reconcile ourselves to ourselves, and let each of
us put a few questions to himself. THE VANITY OF ATTEMPTING TO I, who have some idea of the perfections of OPPOSE GOD.
God, and who cannot doubt whether he knows
the most secret thoughts of my heart, can I PROVERBS xxi. 30.
promise myself to impose on him in his temple
by a painted outside, by a grave deportment, There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor and by a mournful countenance, while my uncounsel against the Lord.
derstanding and my affections take no part in How mean and despicable soever the human religious exercises, while my ideas are conheart since the fall may be, there are always fused, and while my passions promise me an found in it some principles of grandeur and immediate indemnity for the violence I have elevation. Like such superb edifices as time offered them during the few moments of this has demolished, it discovers even in its ruins seeming devotion? But, if I have not this some vestiges of its primitive splendour. What- thought, how is it then that I think to obtain ever presents itself to man under the idea of the favour of God by exercises of this kind? great and noble, strikes and dazzles him: 1, who was educated in the Christian church, whatever presents itself to him under the idea can I imagine that God has less dominion over of low and servile, shocks and disgusts him. me when the air is calm, the heavens serene, Accordingly one of the most formidable me and the earth firm under my feet, than when thods of attacking religion is to exhibit it as a the clouds are thick and black, the thunder contrivance fit for narrow geniuses and mean rolls in the air, the lightning flashes, and the souls. One of the most proper means to esta- earth seems to open under my feet? But, if I blish irreligion is to represent it as suited to have not adopted this opinion, how comes it to great and generous minds. To rise above pass that I commit the greatest crimes without vulgar ideas, to shake off the yoke of con- remorse in the first period, and in the second science, to derive felicity and glory from self, reproach myself for the most pardonable of all to make fortune, victory, Providence, and deity my frailties: itself yield to human will, these are pretensions, I, who am surrounded with the dying and which have, I know not what in them, to flat- the dead; I, who feel myself dying every day: ter that foolish pride, which an erroneous mind I, who carry death in my face, who feel it in confounds with true magnanimity. We propose my veins, who, when I lay on a sick bed a few to-day, my brethren, to combat these danger- months ago, and thought myself come to the ous prejudices, to dissipate all such appearances last moment of life, felt the most violent reof grandeur and elevation, and to make you morse; I, who would have then given the feel the extravagance of all those, who have whole world, had the whole world been at my the audacity to attempt to oppose Almighty disposal, to have been delivered from sin, can God. The Wise Man calls us to this medita- I persuade myself that I shall live here always. tion in the words of the text. “There is no Can I even persuade myself that I shall live wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against much longer? Or if I could, that when death the Lord.”
shall present itself to me, I shall be exempt Perhaps you will accuse us (and we will en- from remorse, and that the crimes, which now ter on the subject by examining this objection,) make the pleasure of my life, will not be the perhaps you will accuse us of creating phan- poison of my dying bed? But, if I be incapatoms to combat. Perhaps you will defy us to ble of adopting opinions so opposite to what I find among the different classes of idiots, know by feeling and experience, what am I do whom society cherishes in its bosom, any one ing? How is it possible for me to live as if I who has carried his extravagance so far as to thought myself immortal, as if I had made a presume to oppose God, or to pretend to con- covenant with death and were at agreement with strain him by superior knowledge or power. the grave, as if I had stifled for ever the feel
My brethren, one of the most difficult sub- ings of my consci nce, as if I were sure of dic jects in the study of the human heart is, when tating myself the decree of divine justice cona man leads a certain course of life, to deter- cerning my own eternal state? mine whether he has adopted the extravagant And, not to multiply examples, of which principles on which his conduct is founded, the extravagance of the human mind would and without which his conduct is the most pal- furnish a great number, I, whose views are so pable folly. Take which side we will, whether short, whose knowledge is so confined, whose that he acts on principles, or without them, the faculties are so frail, and whose power is so case will appear extremely difficult. On the limited, can I promise myself success in opone hand, we can hardly persuade ourselves posing the designs of that God, who says in that an intelligent creature, who is capable of his word, “My counsel shall stand, and I will
do all my pleasure?" Isa. xlv. 10. Can I
I. We will consider our text in regard to mise myself to subdue a God "great in coun- worldly grandeur. We sometimes see those, sel, and mighty in work,” Jer. xxxii. 19, and who are called grandees in the world, resist to constrain him by superior power? But, if I God, pretend to compel him by superior force, have not adopted such extravagant thoughts, or by greater knowledge. And whom do we what mean the obstacles which I oppose against intend to characterize? Is it a Pharaoh, who his will? What signify my plans of felicity, boldly demands, “Who is the Lord, that I which are diametrically opposite to those which should obey his voice?” Is it a Sennacherib, he has traced for me in his word? Why do I who uttered this insolent language, “Beware not direct all my intentions and actions to in- lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, the Lord corporate in my interest him, whose will is pro- will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the ductive and efficient? Why do I not found my nations delivered his land out of the hand of system of living on this principle of the Wise the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Man, “There is no wisdom, nor understand- Hamath and Arphad? Where are the gods of ing, nor counsel against the Lord.”
Sepharvaim? Who are they amongst all the My brethren, explain to us these enigmas, gods of those lands, that have delivered their discover yourselves to yourselves, and recon- land out of my hand, that the Lord should decile yourselves with yourselves. O miserable liver Jerusalem out of my hand?" Is it a Neman! What kind of madness animates thee? buchadnezzar, to whom the prophet puts this Is it that of having conceived these extrava- mortifying question, “How art thou fallen gant thoughts, which are alone capable of var- from heaven, thou day star, thou son of the nishing over thy conduct Or is it that of act morning? Thou who didst weaken the nations, ing without thought, which is a sort of raving hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heamadness, for even erroneous opinions might ven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of seem to thee to apologize for thine actions o God, I will sit also upon the mount of the "heart of man, deceitful above all things, and congregation in the sides of the north, I will desperately wicked, who can know thee!" Jer. be like the Most High,” Isa. xxxvi. 1s. 20. xvii. 9.
and chap. xiv. 12-14. However, the knowledge of this heart so Is it a Nero, who could hear without tremdifficult to be known, is not entirely unattain- bling those blasphemous eulogies, “ If the fates able, it is even essential to our happiness. had no other methods of placing Nero on the How should we correct ourselves without throne than those civil wars, which deluged knowing ourselves? How should we acquire Rome with blood, ye gods, we are content; the real wisdom without knowing precisely what most atrocious crimes, the most sanguinary exour folly is, and by what means to get rid of it? ecutions are agreeable at this price. Lift up
It should seem we ought to search for a so- your eyes, Cesar, and choose your place among lution of these difficulties in the artifices of our the immortal gods, take the thunder of Jupiown passions. The passions not only disguise ter, and succeed the father of gods and men. exterior objects, but they disguise even our Mount the chariot of the sun, and give the own thoughts, they persuade us that we do not world light, all the gods will count it felicity think what we do think, and in this manner and glory to submit to thy laws, and to give they confirm us in the most extravagant no- up their place and their power to thee." tions, the absurdity of which we could not But nature produces few such monsters. help seeing were we dispassionate and cool. Our age has too much knowledge, and our The work therefore to which we ought most manners are too refined to suffer such plain seriously to apply ourselves, is to take off such and open declarations. Yet how often is grancoverings as our passions throw over our opin- deur even now in our times a patent for insoions, and which prevent our seeing that we lence against God! What, for example, is that think as we do; to this important work I shall perpetual parade of the great, and that vain address myself in the remaining part of this ostentation, with which they dazzle the eyes discourse.
of their dependants, and of which they avail A modern philosopher has founded on this themselves to rob God of the hearts of men? principle the whole of his system on the dif- What is that haughty confidence, which they ference between right and wrong. He says, place in their forces, after they have guarded justice consists in affirming that a thing is what their cities, built forts, and filled their treasuit is, and injustice in denying it. He explains ries, they live in security, even though they this thought by another, that is, that we affirm have provoked God by acts of the most crying and deny not only by words, but also by ac- injustice, by the most barbarous executions, tions, and that the second manner of affirming and by the most execrable blasphemies! or denying is more express and decisive than Whence that immoderate avidity of praise, the first. I will not examine whether this phi- which makes them nourish themselves with losopher has not carried his principles too far: the incense of a vile flatterer, and live on the but I am going to prove by the actions of men titles of immortals, invincibles, arbiters of that they pretend to oppose God, and that they peace and war? Whence that contempt of reset four obstacles against his will, their gran- ligion, and that spirit of impiety and profanedeur, their policy, their pleasures, and their ness, which usually reigns in the hearts of stoical obstinacy. 'I am going to prove at the princes? Whence that dominion which some same time to worldly politicians and grandees, of them exercise over conscience, and those to voluptuous and stoical people, that to un- laws, which they dare to give mankind to serve dertake to resist God is the height of extrava- God against their own convictions, to form
“There is no wisdom nor understand ideas of him, which they think injurious to his ing, nor counsel against the Lord.”
majesty, to perform a worship, which they