"Pilgrim! burdened with your sin,
Come the way to Zion's gate;
There, till mercy shut you in,
Knock, and weep, and watch, and wait.
Knock—He knows the sinner's cry;
Weep—He loves the mourner's tears;
Watch—for saving grace is nigh;
Wait—till heavenly light appears.
Hark! it is the Bridegroom's voice.
Welcome, pilgrim! to your rest;
Now within the gate rejoice,
Safe, and sealed, and bought, and blest."
"Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to
have dinner with him, so He went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the
table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned
that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar
of perfume, and as she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to
wet His feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them
and poured perfume on them." Luke 7:36-38
In our last scene of busy life on the Shores of
Gennesaret, we visited in thought the house of a Gentile officer in
Capernaum, and were there taught the hallowed relation which ought ever to
subsist between master and servant, rich and poor.
We have now a change of incident within the walls of the
same city; where Hebrew synagogues and Hebrew dwellings mingled with the
villas and mansions of Roman courtiers, and the palaces of Herodian princes.
In one of these Jewish houses the scene of our present
narrative is laid. It is a Parable in real life. New phases of humanity here
meet us, with which Jesus dealt; and in dealing with which, He has left
behind important lessons for our guidance and instruction.
Of the many graphic scenes, indeed, in Sacred story, we
know not one more striking than that which is at present to engage our
attention. It is a Picture amid Gospel Pictures. One ceases to wonder that
the great Painters of the middle ages clung to it as a favorite subject for
delineation. We have in the group itself—its lights and shadows—the
individuality of its unique and contrasted characters—all that contributes
to make a striking and powerful composition. Proceeding rapidly, as we are
doing, through this portion of the gospel Picture-gallery, we dare not pass
it by in silence. Other minor figures crowd the background, but there are
Three which stand out from the inspired canvass in significant
prominence—three impersonations of vastly diverse character.
In the foreground of all, and arresting first our
attention, is the impersonation of lowly Penitence and Humility. Close by,
in bold contrast and antagonism, is the type of haughty supercilious Pride
and Religious Formalism. And, thirdly, to complete the triad, and in still
greater contrast, there is the Godlike Impersonation and essence of
ineffable Tenderness, Compassion, Love.
The Weeping sinner, the Self-righteous Pharisee, the
Great and Gracious Redeemer. Let us for a little, with God's blessing,
dwell on each of the three in their order.
(I.) The first figure which meets our eye in the
picture is that of THE LOWLY PENITENT (The Weeping sinner)
Her history is a brief one—soon told: "A woman in the
city, who was a sinner." "THE sinner" was her infamous
epithet! The guilt of a life of immorality and shame was branded on her
brow. She was probably a Gentile—one of those unhappy outcasts from virtue
and peace that had been imported to the Jewish lake by the loathsome
corruption of Roman leaders.
All at once, however, her life has become changed. How
she may have been prepared to undergo so vast a revolution in her history,
we cannot tell. For years, it may be, her soul may have been struggling in
vain to get free. Her heart may have been torn and tortured with the
memories of a blighted past, and a miserable and abandoned present; and yet
she might know no faithful ear, perhaps, to which she might reveal the
reality of her wretchedness. The sunny recollections of joyous and innocent
childhood, and a happy home, may have mingled sadly with the thought of the
agonized and broken hearts there left, from which she had torn herself
forever. A future of terrible and untold desolation rose before her. No
Gadarene demoniac, more truly than she, went about "seeking rest and finding
But Rest she has found. Her base betrayers
have crushed that bleeding heart under their feet—they mock her tears and
scorn her self-reproaches. But One voice she has heard which has spoken
peace to her troubled soul!
Where she first saw Jesus, we cannot tell. Where she
first listened to those gracious balm-words which stanched her bleeding
wounds, we know not. Could she have been in the crowd that day by the
Lakeside, when the Lord of nature and grace spoke so tenderly from the
fisher's boat? Could she have lingered, on that more recent occasion, in the
skirts of the multitude as, from the Mount of Beatitudes, wondrous words of
power, and wrath, and mercy, fell on her ears? Might she not have heard the
stern utterance there pronounced in connection with such sins as hers,
"The whole body shall be cast into hell?" Might not she also have
listened there to the blessing in reserve for the "poor in spirit,"
the "persecuted," the "mourner?" Might she not have heard that Great
Restorer who had healed lepers and sick, rich and poor, noble and despised,
say without reserve or condition—"Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and
you shall find, knock and it shall be opened?"
Or, is it not more probable still, that she may have
listened in Capernaum to that briefest but loveliest of all the Savior's
utterances spoken shortly before, and which has for eighteen hundred years
calmed the tempests in many storm-swept bosoms, "Come to Me all you that
labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest? Take My yoke upon you,
and learn of Me: for I am meek and lowly of heart: and you shall find rest
for your souls? For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light?" "Are not these
words, these golden words," she might say, "just for ME? They
are all I require—all I have been seeking for! I am a 'WEARY one;' none but
God in Heaven knows how weary! This heart of mine for years has been
torn and broken. The burden of crimson sin has been weighing me down. Did I
not hear Him say, 'Come to Me, I will give you rest? you shall find
rest to your souls?'"
Might there not thus have been one echo at least to these
soul-soothing words in that crowd? One ear listening which drank them in?
One bosom sighing for that to which it had been ever before a stranger—a
yoke which was easy, and a burden which was light?
But whatever were the occasion—wherever the scene, and
the place, and the manner of her awaking from her sleep of death—she had
been arrested, convicted, humbled, comforted; her conscience had been
struck, her life of profligacy was loathed and abandoned forever. Now, all
her thoughts are about coming into a personal encounter with that Great
Being who had brought her up out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry
clay, and set her feet upon a Rock, and established her goings!
Who can picture all the reality of that season of deep
conviction—the tears she wept in secret over her life of infamy?—and if she
now cherishes the humble hope that that terrible past is wondrously
forgiven, how full is she still of trembling apprehensions! The scene in the
text discloses to us the turning-point in her history. It is the struggle
between life and death. In the anguish of her newly-awakened
and deeply-stricken heart, she has long been making the patriarch's prayer
her own—"Oh! that I knew where I might find HIM, that I might come even to
Her cherished wish is now to be gratified. Such an
opportunity for seeing the Savior does now occur. She had heard that He was
guest that afternoon in a rich Pharisee's house. The doors of the
dining-hall (according to Eastern custom) were open. Could she not creep
unbidden behind where He was, and weep at His feet the tale of her sorrows?
Yet many, and diverse too, are the struggles before she dare venture there.
Two impediments, especially, must have powerfully deterred her.
There was, first, that which many a penitent
transgressor still feels—the fear of others. The dread of cruel
censure, contempt, and scorn. She seems to have had the curse of an
unenviable notoriety resting upon her. May she not be spurned away? May not
that drooping heart, opening to the gladsome sunlight, be trodden under foot
by merciless man?
Then add to this the torturing thought—how can she
face the infinitely PURE ONE? She seems to say, "Can I, dare I, venture
into the presence of Incarnate holiness? Can He endure my defiling touch?
Will He condescend to receive me; to cast on me one look of pity—to utter
one word of compassion? May I not only aggravate the tortures of this heart
by listening to merited upbraidings, by hearing that 'Rest' there is for the
'weary,' for every weary head, but mine, and such as mine!"
But what will a soul in earnest not do? What
barriers can restrain it? Frown who may, she resolves to repair to that
"fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness;" and to tell her story by
those tears which had been "her food, day and night," since she first
listened to her Savior's words.
She enters the house. Silently she steals behind the
couch where the Lord reclined. If the other guests have been observing
her—if the whisper and comment of indignation is passing round from lip to
lip—it matters not to her. She hears it not, and cares not though she hears.
JESUS IS THERE! She thinks of no one in the assembly but the Refuge of the
weary, the Help of the helpless, the Friend of the friendless. Her eye rests
on Him alone. She has found "Him whom her soul loves." "He is all her
salvation, and all her desire."
See her now, in her lowly lurking-place. Not a word is
spoken. Her burning tear-drops (what Augustine calls "the blood of her
heart") are left to speak for her. They fall on her Savior's unsandalled
feet. On these feet she imprints her kisses, and dries them with the
disheveled hair of her head. An act, it is worthy of observation, which was
performed only by the lowliest female slaves in Rome to their masters. In
this poor sinner's case, therefore, it was significant. Branded with
ridicule by man, she fled to the God-Man. That trembling
Penitent casting herself at her heavenly Master's feet, seems rejoicingly to
say, "O Lord, truly I am Your slave, I am Your slave; You have
loosened my bonds."
And as if this were not all, a box of fragrant perfume,
which she had procured, probably to lavish on her own person in the days of
her shame, she now breaks, and pours on the feet she had moistened with
weeping. As we behold the loosened tresses (what Paul speaks of as "the
glory of woman"), now spurning all adornment, and the fragments of the
alabaster-box scattered around, this weeper of Holy Writ seems to
have anticipated the same apostle's injunction to other similar penitents,
and to be acting upon it—"As you have yielded your members servants to
uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members
servants to righteousness unto holiness."
Oh, beautiful type! Marvelous picture of broken-hearted
sorrow! A poor outcast of wretchedness lying low at the cross! her
footpath there saturated with dewy tears. A miserable wreck of humanity who
had broken loose from her moorings, drifting helpless, hopeless, ruined,
lost, to the bleak winds and howling sea of eternity, now fastened to the
Great Living Rock. There was joy in Heaven that day, among the angels of
God, over that one sinner that repented!
We now pass on to the second Portrait in this
Gospel picture—the type of haughty supercilious Pride and Religious
Formalism—the Self-righteous Pharisee. Can there be conceived a
greater contrast and transition? From one low in the dust of self-abasement,
confessing herself the chief of sinners, to one who is the type and
portraiture of haughty self-righteous formalism! The host at this
entertainment was a PHARISEE.
Little or nothing is said of him in the narrative, to
throw any distinctive light on his history. We have no reason to believe
that he was, by any means, a disreputable specimen of his class. Had he been
so, our blessed Lord would have been more unqualified in His condemnation.
He was no Skeptic. Neither profanity nor immorality probably could be laid
to his charge. Multitudes of such were round about that Lake; profligate
Gentiles, scoffing Romans, rationalistic Sadducees. But he was very
different. He was, for all we know, a good Moral man. He was a Synagogue
attender. The very fact of having Jesus as his guest intimated a respect for
religious Teaching. He was punctilious in Synagogue services and Ceremonial
rites. The only incidental glimpse, indeed, the narrative gives of his
character, indicates this much—he marveled that if Christ were truly a
prophet, gifted with the discernment of spirits, He did not shrink from the
unclean touch of the sinner at His feet. He spoke within himself, "This man,
if he were a prophet, would have known who, and what manner of woman this
is, that touches him." He speaks of the Magdalene not as the woman who
"weeps," or "kisses," or "anoints," or "loves," but as the woman that
He was then, externally to a Jew, all that could be
wished. He "thanked God that he was not as others." He tithed all he
possessed with scrupulous nicety. He could boast, it may be, of the broadest
phylactery in Capernaum. He was a pupil of Hillels, or, perhaps, made it
matter of thankfulness that it was not Hillel, but Shammai, at whose
feet he had sat, and whose spirit he had imbibed. He made it his boast that
he never had any dealings with the Samaritans; that far off as Mount Zion
was, he had ever shunned, as defiled, their temple on Gerizim; and in going
up to the annual feasts, rather than run the risk of contamination, he would
take the circuit of the Jordan route to avoid it. No, no; other Jews might
show a latitudinarian spirit and have dealings with Samaritans; never would
he! Others might believe in the sincerity of a Publican smiting on his
breast and confessing himself a sinner, and God hearing that prayer; never
could he! And as for condescending so much as to touch this Gentile Sinner,
this wretched offscouring of Roman profligacy, it would defile and
contaminate him—it would be a blot on his pedigree as the child of Abraham.
He had conscientious objections to take the Jewish children's bread and cast
it to Gentile dogs!
Jesus saw what was passing in the narrow, shriveled soul
of this turbaned Religionist; indeed, but for a brief and sententious
parable, which the merciful Philanthropist interposed, the Pharisee-host
might have bid away the poor suppliant from his home and table. "O Simon!"
says a learned commentator, "if you were not a poor sinner, Jesus would not
have come to your table; had not this woman been a penitent sinner, she
would not have sought Him in your house. Oh, that you knew what a Savior He
is—how He knows you and her: her repentance—your pride!"
Is not this Jewish Pharisee a "Representative man"—a type
still of his Class? In him we have one of those cold, heartless spirits who
have an outward respect for conventional Religious Forms, but have no
corresponding realization of the exceeding breadth of God's law, and the
exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts. They see sin in others, but
they are all as they should be; they can pull out the speck in their
brother's eye, but they have no thought of a beam in their own. Champions
for sect and party; orthodox, as they firmly believe in their own creed—all
the world are wrong, or may be wrong, but they are sure they are
right. Their Church is the pure one. They can trace their pedigree to
apostles. Others have altered their rubrics; they never have. Others seem to
live on enthusiasm; they can take Religion easy, and get into Heaven
notwithstanding. There are poor at their doors, why not let the Law
or Police look after them? If a miserable transgressor comes in their path,
they hold it would not be respectable to have dealings with him; if a
brother, overtaken in a fault, comes with the hot tears of grief pleading
for forgiveness, they think it best to have nothing to say to him. It may do
for a good Samaritan to pick up that wounded man; but, being Jews, they
would contract defilement by touching him. They are sorry for him; but,
shaking their heads and sighing, they leave him to the tender mercies of
others, and "pass by on the other side!"
Let us beware of this cold, selfish, proud spirit. If
there is anything more obnoxious to God, more withering to all that is noble
in the human soul, it is this—the gilding of the outside of the cup and
platter—the whitewash of the moral sepulcher—the Religion which begins and
centers and terminates in self, and whose culminating glory is the
complacent thought, "I am better than others. Stand back, I am holier than
The Omniscient Savior sent the arrow of conviction to
this Pharisee's conscience. Like another Nathan, self-judged and
self-condemned, he brought home the verdict, "you are the man." He
would do the same to every one of us, who in the shadings of this picture
may see any dim reflection of himself. He who knew all the deep labyrinths
of the human heart thus gives in another place His estimate of
self-righteous, Pharisaic formalism, "Except your righteousness exceed the
righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no way enter into
the kingdom of heaven."
But let us pass on to the third and last principal
figure in our Picture. In the center of the group (between the two we have
described), is the Living and All-glorious type of human Tenderness,
Compassion and Love—an exalted SAVIOR-GOD, the Great and Gracious
We wait anxiously to mark how He receives the trembling
Transgressor. Are her fears well founded? Are her sobs to die away in empty
echoes within these walls? Ah! if it had been man—selfish, haughty,
unfeeling man—away, spurned and broken-hearted, she would have been sent;
but "My ways are not as your ways, nor My thoughts as your thoughts, says
At first He speaks not—He leaves her in silence to
exhaust her tribute of sorrow and love. The streams of her heart being just
opened, He lets the flood of tears rush on unchecked. But He does
break His silence—He can bear and brook no longer the cruel frowns and
taunting looks of those around. With what feelings must the broken-hearted
one have listened to the tones of ever-living love, as thus He (yes, HE
the Lord of glory) spoke in behalf of the vilest of sinners. "Simon,"
he said to the Pharisee, "I have something to say to you." "All right,
Teacher," Simon replied, "go ahead." Then Jesus told him this story: "A man
loaned money to two people—five hundred pieces of silver to one and fifty
pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly
forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more
after that?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the
He turns then round in meek majesty to the Penitent, and
applies the simple but expressive rebuke. "Do you see," he continued to
Simon, "this woman? I entered, a weary Stranger, into your house. In
accordance with usual custom—the rites of ancient hospitality—you or your
servants should have afforded Me water for My feet: this was denied Me: but
your neglect or inconsideration was more than supplied by her.
From the welling fountains of her grief she has bathed My feet with her
tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no
kiss—this usual courtesy to a Jewish Rabbi you have, from motives of
calculating prudence, withheld from Me; but she, ever since she crept behind
this table, has not ceased to kiss My feet. My head even with common olive
oil you did not anoint; but this woman has anointed not My head, but My very
feet, and that, too, with costliest spikenard. Therefore I say to you, Her
sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little
is forgiven, the same loves little."
And now follows the gracious, longed-for word to the
listening Penitent. Now comes her own assurance of comfort and Joy—"Your
Sins Are Forgiven." "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Her
Lord has received her, looked upon her, defended her, assured her,
forgiven her, and now He sends her away with the coveted benediction.
She came weary to Him, and He has not belied His own sure word, for she
has received "rest" for her burdened soul.
Most lovely picture, we again say, this of the Savior of
the world, with that despised, down-trodden, forlorn female at His
feet! We have here a living type and embodiment of what Christianity has
done to wipe the tears from degraded womanhood, and raise her from the dust
to which paganism had doomed her. What is the boasted Chivalry of the middle
ages, but the legitimate effect of the elevating spirit of Christianity?
Wherever Christianity is not, there is woman found with the curse of
bondage and degradation resting upon her—the drudge and menial slave,
instead of the helpmeet and companion of man. The first words that our Lord
uttered when He rose from the grave were addressed to a whole world in
tears—"Woman! why are you weeping?" And He could point to that vacant
sepulcher He had just left as the certain pledge, amid higher blessings,
that before long these tears would be dried. O Jesus! Woman
(personated by that poor Penitent in the text) may well come and lie adoring
at Your feet. Your religion has been the breaker of her chains and the
balm of her sorrows! We cease now to wonder that she was last at Your
cross and first at Your tomb!
Let us pass on to several Practical Lessons
which this narrative suggests. We may take three which have reference
to Great Sinners.
I. We learn that for Great Sinners there is a Great
Savior. Here is THE Lesson of all lessons. We have been
studying this Picture figure by figure, but like the ancient Painters we
must be jealous of detracting from what, after all, is the central glory
of it. All the other parts must be subordinated to One—all other figures
must only be brought in as helps to tell the story of His exceeding love.
Yes! Jesus is the Chief Speaker here; and, "chief
of sinners," He speaks to you! He tells you in words and deeds of
unutterable tenderness, that you never need despair of His mercy!—that for
"scarlet sins" and "crimson sins" there is an ever opened fountain. "This
man receives sinners," was the ironical taunt of proud and haughty
Pharisees. "This man receives sinners," is the Savior's own motto—the
glorious peculiarity of His great salvation! Hear it, you who are bowed down
with an overwhelming sense of some heinous sins! there may be one such whose
eye is falling on these pages; some troubled miserable being—shivering on
the verge of despair—an awful past frowning upon you—specters of guilt
haunting you by night, and the scorpion sting of conscience goading you by
day; hiding your fears from those nearest and dearest to you; your heart
alone knowing its own bitterness—the dreadful unrest of unforgiven and
I am commissioned this day to lead you to this Picture in
the great gallery of Truth—to point to that wicked Profligate with the blood
of souls on her head, and to tell you she trembled and wept,
and believed and rejoiced! Hers was the worst supposable case.
No sheep in all the Galilee fold more outcast, worthless, self-condemned
than she; and yet—see the kind Shepherd! He had followed after her (it may
be for years on years), tracking her guilty steps as she rushed farther and
farther from the fold, but He ceased not "until He found her;" and when He
had found her, He laid her on His shoulders rejoicing, saying "Rejoice with
me, for I have found the sheep which was lost!"
The Pharisees' axiom (and still the creed and verdict
of many) is—"God can have no dealing with such vile sinners." He
can—He does! Remember, it is not the Sinner He hates, but
Sin. He loves the sinner. He gave His Son to die for the sinner, to
show how He loves him! What other proof of this do we need when we
have the Cross of Calvary? "He is not willing that any should perish, but
that all should come to Him and live." If you are saying now, as you
contemplate that picture of anguished Penitence and Redeeming Love, "Would
it were the same with me!" I answer unhesitatingly, "It may be
the same; with God's grace it shall be the same! Come! you whose sins
are of the deepest dye—the memories of the past, memories of guilt and
loathing and self-reproach—your hearts restless and anguished as you stoop
over the dark abyss; put this picture before your mental eye—keep it
there—hang it upon your heart-walls—ponder it in your hours of conviction
and your hours of despair—suspend it above your death-pillows, and write
under it as its name and inscription—'Where sin abounded GRACE did much
Learn that toward Great Sinners there ought to be
shown great tenderness. It is often not so with man. There is often a
mean pleasure in spurning the transgressor from our presence—recalling the
memory of sin—loading with cutting rebuke and upbraidings—when a kind word
and kind act might reclaim from the paths of vice and soothe a shattered and
a broken heart!
Yes, I fearlessly say it, there is often a harsh
unwillingness to make allowance for circumstances—for the power of
temptation and the seductions of a guilty world. How often is this the case
with the wretched outcasts of whom the woman in the text is the type!
Society frowns on them (that we dare not blame); but is there to
be left no room for repentance and for tears? If another such weeping
Magdalene, as in the text, is to implore a kind look, after years of
anguished penitence, are these tears to be cruelly mocked, and is she to
turn her head to the grave as the only rest and resting-place for her woe?
Is a brother to turn an erring sister from his gates? Can a parent read this
story of redeeming mercy, and let the iron enter deeper into the heart of
his penitent and exiled child?
Yet how often is it so, and this all the while (oh! the
cruel and base injustice of public morality)—while the man—the base
seducer—who murdered the peace of innocent households, and brought a father
and mothers' gray hairs in sorrow to the grave—while he is permitted
to strut unbranded on the world's highway! The world's doors are open to
him—the lounges of fashion he can frequent—he can clasp still the young hand
of virtue, and whirl with it in the giddy dance; the victims of his sin
meanwhile left to pine in brokenhearted misery—unwept for—unsolaced! One's
heart burns with indignation at the hollow baseness of this too truthful
picture of what is called "fashionable life." I ask you whether
should that deserted woman, shivering in the ragged tatters of poverty in
her wretched garret, or her destroyer, moving amid the lights and halls of
luxury—whether is that poor, broken-down, battered flower, with its soiled
and withered leaves, or he who has crushed its young tendrils under foot,
and left it to rot and consume in the delirium of despair—which of these two
is most hated in the sight of God—which of these two ought to be most
branded in the eye of man?
You may remember another similar Victim of guilt and
shame hurried into the presence of Christ. Her cruel-hearted accusers were
all loud in her condemnation; until Jesus, by a personal appeal to their
consciences silenced their clamor, and pronounced the milder verdict—"Neither
do I condemn you; go and sin no more." Let us come to this
Parable-picture, and learn a lesson of tenderness to the erring.
Learn it from Him who is our great Example. "He will not break the bruised
reed—He will not quench the smoking flax." We have often truly reason to say
"Let me not fall into the hands of man." But we have seen the end of the
Lord, how that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. To every
weeping, broken-hearted Penitent, lying low at His cross and casting the
burden of sin there, He says, "I will be merciful to your unrighteousness;
your sins and your iniquities will I remember no more!"
III. Learn that from Great Sinners God expects great
gratitude and love.
This Woman's sins, which were many, were "all forgiven,"
and, as a consequence, "'she loved much." We must not, from all I have said,
be tempted to infer that Christ in any degree winks at sin. The stupendous
journey He undertook from the heights of glory to the depths of humiliation
refutes at once the thought! If sin, great or small, were a trivial thing in
the eye of God, do you think that He would have exacted a penalty of such
untold anguish from the Son of His love? Equally abhorrent must be the
thought of continuing in sin because such grace abounds. Would not
this be to represent a holy God as the great Patron of iniquity? Would it
not be to make the entire Incarnation work one gigantic effort to relax the
penalties of the law, and let the transgressor violate it with impunity? We
repel the thought, as Paul repelled it, with an indignant "God forbid!"
Let those who have been thus graciously forgiven, and
"forgiven much"—who by the free grace and tender mercy of God have had such
a full, free, everlasting remission extended to them—let such show by holy
living and holy acting—by contrition and humility, by kindness and
gentleness and unselfishness, by love to God and love to man—the depth of
their gratitude to Him who has dealt with them as the tenderest earthly
father never dealt with his dearest and fondest child. This lowly Penitent
in the text, as she crouches tremblingly and lovingly at the feet of Jesus,
with the mingled remembrance of great guilt and great forgiveness,
lavishes upon Him her best! She may have had nothing else to
offer. The sole treasure of a wretched home, she plucked from her
bosom and poured its fragrant contents on the feet of her pilgrim Redeemer!
She seems to speak to every crimson and scarlet
Transgressor, who, heart-sick with sin—stricken down by the terrors of the
law—the truths of the second death—the dreadful other world—has rushed to
the only Ark of safety, the sheltering Covert for the weary and heavy laden!
She seems to say, "Give Him—oh! give Him not the crumbs and dregs,
not the sweepings and remnants of 'a worn and withered love,' but let
your tribute offering be, to the full measure of your ability, commensurate
with the magnitude of that forgiving mercy which has borne the mighty load
away into a land of oblivion!"
Reader! Is the sweet music of that word now falling on
your ear—"Sinner! your sins are forgiven?" Grace has called you!—Love
has redeemed you! Blood has washed you! Peace is bequeathed to you! Heaven
is before you! Be it yours to reply, "Lord! I am Yours! My love to You—that
cold callous thing which we call love—is but as a drop in the ocean
of Your tenderness. But here I am! Take me, use me for Your glory! This
body, long a dark, desecrated shrine, full of loathsome pollution,
sanctify it as a Temple to Your praise. This soul, that has been long
groveling in the dust, wallowing in the mire of its earthliness and sin,
bring back to it the lost image and lineaments of Your great Self! This
life, this existence reclaimed by you from the blank chaos of death and
despair—oh! let it be one never-ending thank-offering of gratitude to Him
who has 'loved me with an everlasting love.'
And Death!—when that solemn moment draws near,
which I once shuddered to name—'MY death!'—let it be the sweet
triumph-hour of a spirit at peace with its God! As I confront the once
dreaded water-floods, let me hear the old word which on earth I loved so
well. Let me hear it come floating across the dark billows, glorious with
the new impress and meaning of Heaven; yet still spoken by Him who died,
that to me and for me He might utter it, as He stands
beckoning on the heavenly Shore, "Come to me, weary one, and I will give