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did Jesus know who she was, and all about her. It was his very know. ledge that permitted him to allow her conduct. So after reproving the Pharisee, he turned to the woman herself, whose eyes were swollen with weeping, and whose heart was almost rent asunder between sorrow, and love, and joy; and fixing on her his heavenly eye, said in tones peculiar to himself, " Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
Early one morning he was in the temple at Jerusalem. The Scribes and Pharisees, intent on seeking some charge to prefer against him, brought before him a woman taken in adultery. Having accused her, and stated the Jewish law in reference to the crime, they asked him what opinion he entertained on the matter. He first treated them as if he heard them not. But when they pressed him for a reply, he silenced and dis. persed them all, by requesting the man who was without sin among them to be first executioner of the sentence which the law pronounced. And when they had all departed, he turned to the woman, and said, “ Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.”
When Jesus hung on the cross, there were crucified with him two malefactors, who, for public violation of the laws of their country, were suffering death. One of these, awakened to a sense of his past guilt and the realities of a future world, sought an interest in his love. “Lord," said he, “remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” * To-day,” said the gracious Redeemer, “ghalt thou be with me in paradise.” Thus Jesus died as he had lived, illustrating the statement, “ This man receiveth sinners.”
But Jesus is no longer on earth. He is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Is he, you ask, the same compassionate, merciful, tender Saviour that he was when below ? We shall see.
Listening to the sermon of Peter on the day of Pentecost were many who had either directly or indirectly taken part in his death. Peter's sermon pricked them to the heart. In their distress they exclaimed, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” And what answer must the apostles give them ? Must they say, “Your crime is of such a dreadful character that we cannot promise you any forgiveness”? No. They are to give no such reply. The words of their Lord, “Beginning at Jeru. : salem,” were fresh in their recollection. They knew the mercy of the Saviour. Hence Peter urged them to repent. And they that believed his message, found that he who had prayed for them on the cross, now saved by them from his throne.
A little more than a year after this there was a young man on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus. He hated the christians. He had already identified himself with the work of persecution. And now charged with the high authority he was proceeding to Damascus to uproot the new faith, which flourished there. One eye looked on him in compassion. It might justly have flashed with wrath; and the voice that addressed him in tender expostulation, might in tones of thunder have pronounced his destruction. But the Lord had mercy on him. He was added as one more to the illustrious displays of divine grace. And thirty years after, with the whole road-scene before him, he penned this general conclusion for the hope of mankind to latest ages, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
At the time when these circumstances were occurring in the history of Paul, there was a city on the Gulf of Corinth, in the Adriatic Sea, which was distinguished for its commerce, its wealth, its luxury, its gaiety, and its licentiousness. To this city, about seventeen years after, Paul went to preach the gospel. For nearly two years he laboured hard; but he
laboured not in vain. Towards the gay, dissolute, idolatrous inhabitants of Corinth, the heart of Jesus yearned with compassion. He brought many of them to his feet. He pardoned their sins. He cleansed them from pollution. He put his own Spirit within them. So that Paul could afterwards address them in these words : “Be not deceived: neither forni. cators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of them. selves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such vere some of you : but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
In the county of Bedford, there is a little, quiet village called Elstow. Here, about two hundred years ago, there was a youth so notorious for his immorality, that he was an object of pious horror. He violated the Sabbath,-he blasphemed the divine name,-and was considered by the lowest characters of the place as one of themselves. At length he became the subject of terrible convictions. His sins rose before him in awful magnitude. He was afraid every hour of dying and falling into hell. In the midst of his sinful courses, he seemed to see“ the Lord Jesus looking down upon him, and threatening him with some grievous punish. ment for his ungodly practices.” It was not in anger, but in sorrow and love, that Jesus looked on the poor wanderer. He drew him nigh to his cross. Like his own “Christian," he felt the burden of his guilt roll off there, and saw it entombed in the sepulchre. From that hour be found peace in believing. Dear friend, have you ever read “The Jerusalem Sinner Saved,” or, “ Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners,” or, “The Pilgrim's Progress ” ? Then you know how John Bunyan was a proof of that saying, “This man receiveth sinners.”
About the middle of the last century, you might frequently have seen, among the many vessels that visited the African coast to carry on the slave trade, one whose captain was the son of a godly mother ; but who, having been early deprived of her care, and having entered while a boy on a seafaring life, had contracted some of the worst habits of dissipation and crime. He was a dissolute, reckless cailor. Little did he think, as he swore at his crew,-or cruelly treated the poor slave he was conveying far from his father-land,-or stood on the quarter-deck listening to the night winds as they soughed through the rigging, or looked up to the blue sky bright with glittering stars,--that above that sky was One who had watched every hour of his life; who once travailed in mighty throes for his redemption; and who in unfailing love was about to change the whole current of his affections and course of action, and make him not only a miracle of mercy himself, but also a preacher of that mercy to others. Yet so it was. The dissipated sailor,-the swearing captain, the cruel slave-trader,-was converted to the faith, and became as a little child. For seven years as a Scripture reader in Liverpool,—for fifteen years as a faithful preacher at Olney,-for twenty-seven more as a rich expositor of divine truth in London, -John Newton honoured that Jesus whom before he had despised. Do you wonder that he sang,
" When he lived on earth abased,
Friend of sinners was his name;
He rejoices in the same:
And to all our wants attends"? It is thus, my dear reader, that “this man receiveth sinners.” Are you not encouraged to come to Jesus? He receives sinners still. Look around you, and see how many whom you know have been forgiven by him and blessed for ever. Ask your godly neighbour, who was once as guilty as yourself, what has produced in him such a change. Ask him where be found pardon, and who gave him peace. Ask him who taught him to feel for the spiritual condition of others, and go about doing good. Ask him who has opened in his heart such a well-spring of joy, and made him buoyant with the hope of heaven. And he will lay his finger on the passage, “ This man receiveth sinners."
Take, my friend, the encouragement which is given. Did you ever know a sinner whom Christ refused ? In all the world was it ever heard that at the Cross a sinner perished ? Among the strange things that will be told in bell, this will never fall from the lips of any lost soul, “I went to Jesus, and he would not save me; so I am lost.” Come to Jesus, and you will not be sent away!
Perhaps some friendless wanderer on the world's highways, who has given up all for lost, is now reading this sentence., You say there is no 4, hope for you.
“ On the tomb of Hope interred,
Scowls the spectre of Despair." Yes, there is hope. There is one home for thee yet. It is the bosom of Jesus. There is one heart that beats kindly towards thee yet. It is the heart of Jesus. There is one eye that with mild radiance ever follows thee. It is the eye of Jesus. There is one friend left still. That friend is Jesus. Turn thy steps towards him now.
“ Child of sin and sorrow,
Cease now thy tear,
Banish thy fear ;
Him who believes,
Be of good cheer.” “THIS YAN RECEIVETH SINNERS." Halifax.
SHADOWS ON THE HEBREW MOUNTAINS.
BY MRS. H. B. STOWB. Who is the man with eyes to see, or a heart to feel, who can find in this story only the coarse, cheap stock for stale jokes ?
Wisely read, is there not here something more than a vulgar marvel of a man and a fish? Is not here one of the sweetest manifestations in the Old Testament, full of pathos and poetry, and with a moral turned with inimitable sweetness ?
A soft vail of twilight lies over the history. . It is painted in dim, gray morning tints, that lay on the Hebrew mountains years ago when the world was young and simple-hearted. It has in it a mysterious quality, as if the morning-star of the earth were not yet set, and the dew of its first dusky hours were exbaled. All the geography of it lies in those purple shadows; its very names have a quality of enchantment and dreamy grandeur. Nineveh! that great city of three days' journey; Nineveh, whose gigantic remains, now disentombed, look down on us in mysterious grandeur out of galleries of modern art! And Tarshish, that “undiscovered country,” that “El Dorado” of old, whence came gold, and gums, and spices! What a charm is there in these mystical old names; they breathe of “ointment of spikenard and calamus-all the chief spices of the merchants !” Then, too, what graphic, dramatic in.
terest inheres in the character of Jonah-the sensitive, the irritable, yet sincere! Not so much worse than other men, this Jonab; only the story tears away from him that convenient vail with which other men cover their sins, when they bring them up for judgment. We get the plain truth of Jonah--that is all.
Did ever mortal man dare to address Jehovah so before or since ? Listen to him:
“I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying while I was yet in my country?" therefore I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that thou wert a gracious God, merciful, slow to anger, of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”
“I knew that thou wert a gracious God,” he says, in his vexation, “merciful and slow to anger, and of great kindness !”
Poor Jonah ! here he is convicted of being a false prophet. He fancies he hears the very children enquiring, “Well, what has become of your prophecy?” Did he want to come ? Did not he know it would be so ? Didn't he dy to Tarshish to get away from this very thing ? and now, when he has been solemnly making a fool of himself all through the streets, nothing is going to happen after all! He looks down at the great, wicked old city, sitting there like a queen, with its gigantic winged bulls, serenely looking down scorn upon him, and he is very angry! But is Jonah the last theologian who would have Church and State both perish rather than his doctrine proved false? Nay, too many modern theologians have improved on him, and invoked everlasting perdition to their aid, excommunicating one another with the heartiest fervour, and angry as James and John that the fire from heaven does not come down at their word! And some of our modern reformers, one would think, would be as glad as Jonah to see their Nineveh sink !_haven't they predicted it ? If they were only in God's place a little time, what a time the world would have of it!
But the Lord appears no way disturbed by the upbraiding of his crea. ture. There is none of the flurry of a despotic sovereign unused to plain words, but only a calm and smiling pity, as he tries to recall the angry prophet to himself with the question: “Doest thou well to be angry?” “Yes," says Jonah, “I do well to be angry even unto death!”
He throws himself on the earth; he is desperate—what does he care ? -the quicker he dies the better !
Silently now, as a dream, springs up a mystic shade; a fair, flowering tree, with coolness rustling in its leaves, overshadowing him as with a mother's silent presence and love. In this tree may we not see even a deeper meaning; does it not shew how God ever speaks to our vexed, troubled, delirious souls by the sweet healthy growth and bloom of nature This whole outer world, with its flowers and trees, its varied gracefulness
is it not the tree which God has made to come up over us, to deliver us from grief?
Jonah is glad of the gourd; despise him not! There is a little child in every healthy heart, if one only knew it, that is pleased with simple, natural things.' Who has not felt comforted in moments of uttermost anguish by a gush of song, a lovely flower, a gleam of sunlight ? Mungo
ark, overcome with discouragement, at the very point to die, just throw. ing himself desolately down in a jungle of the Niger, says, that the sight of some beautiful moss brought to him such a sense.of the provident care of God, that his whole heart was filled with new strength; “it delivered him from his grief.”
But, in the morning, behold the beautiful tree is withered, and the sun beats hot upon his head!
Fainting, he wishes to die, and says it is better to die than live.
Then says the Lord: “ Thou hast had compassion on the gourd, which thou hast not laboured for, neither made it grow; which came up in a iti night, and perished in a night; and shall not I spare Nineveh, that great. city, wherein are more than six score thousand people that cannot discern between their right hand and their left?”.
How tenderly is this reproof given! It is like Jesus washing his dise kur ciples' feet to shame their pride! The Creator, rudely questioned and upbraided by the work of his hands, defends himself with a simple and i pathetic sweetness!
And are there never times when, in the conflict between God's provie 'n dence and our will, we feel chafed and impatient ? All goes wrong with us, and we are ready to faint, and say, “It is better for me to die than to live;" then may we hear the same voice saying to us, “Doest thou well to be angry?” Then may we turn, overcome by the forbearing sweet. ness of our God; let us cast ourselves at his feet, with the confession, 4 “So foolish was I, and ignorant.”
Poor is he who does not know that one such confiding movement of the soul toward the All Lovely, is worth all the world ever promises, more than all it ever gives. Poor, indeed, is he who has not been moved from the depths of his soul with that sorrow which a view of so generous a God must inspire,—who has not felt it the truest honour, the only healing peace of a sinful and erring creature, to fall silent and humble, yet loving and confiding, at the feet of Perfection.
Moreover, in our dealings with our brother man, are there never times when he turns on us unreasonable as Jonah, upbraiding with unseasonable bitterness, and accusing unjustly in his anger? How shall we meet him ? Shall we give anger for anger? Shall we, when his heart is hot and vexed, set all his sin in order before him, and make him feel his iniquity ? Nay, let us first make some tree of loving kindness come up over him to deliver him from his grief. Let its leaves rustle with kind and soothing voices, fanning away the fever heat; and in some calmer hour he may ponder the gentle question, “Doest thou well to be angry?"
THE FEAR OF THE GRAVE.
BY TAB REV. JAMES SMITH. The fear of death is natural, but to fear the grave appears fancisul. Death is the enemy of nature. It is the first-born of sin. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.” Death severs all ties but one. The band that unites us to Jesus defies the power of death. It 18 demanded by justice, and assented to by grace. We must die, except Jesus should come before death. The grave follows death. It receives the body which the soul has sorsaken. The poles and canvass of the old tabernacle are laid up there. It is a merciful provision to conceal corrupa tion, and prevent disease. " The grave is my house,” said Job. “Ob, that thou wouldst hide me in the grave !” So he sighed under his sorrows. He did not fear the grave, though the lamp of the gospel was not burning in it then as now. In the grave, the poor body will be free from all diseases, aches, and pains. There will be no gout, rheumatism, severs, or cholera there. There will be no weak nerves or relaxed muscles there.