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to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.” In passing, do not fail to observe three facts implied in this argument. It is implied (1) That some men are greater sinners than others. The difference indicated here is fifty to five hundred. Christ does not mean there was really this difference between Simon's sins and the woman's. He merely assumes in arguing what Simon perhaps felt. It is implied (2) That whatever the amount of sin, small or great, there is but one method of relief. The debtor who only owed the fifty pence was as incapable of paying, as the one who owed the five hundred. Both alike “had nothing to pay ;" and both alike therefore were equally dependent upon the mercy of the creditor. It is implied (3) That the greater the amount of sins consciously forgiven, the greater the amount of gratitude. This is the conclusion readily admitted by Simon. But see how the argument condemns him even on his own, ground.
Christ's condemnation of Simon's conduct is expressed :
Secondly : In his appeal. “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,” &c. Both the attitude and words of Christ were adapted to strike with a heavy stroke the cold, contracted, sapless, nature of this Pharisee. He turned to the woman to show Simon His deep interest in the greatest sinner when penitent. Thus by word and attitude Christ virtually condemned the conduct of this sinner ;--and so he does ever the conduct of the formalist.
But whilst Simon is thus condemned, the woman is forgiven. “Thy sins are forgiven.” Observe (1) The greatness of her forgiveness. She was a great sinner. Christ forgives great sinners. Observe (2) The proof of her forgiveness. Overwhelming gratitude and love. Observe (3) The condition of her forgiveness ;—"thy faith hath saved thee.”
“Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that through this man is preached,” &c. Observe (4) The blessedness of her forgiveness. “Go in peace.”
What a blessing is peace! “Go in peace." Let not the thunders of law, the accusations of conscience, the forebodings of the future, terrify thee any more. Hush thy sorrows, dry thy tears ; take thy harp and give sweet music to the glorious truth, that “there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” &c.
SUBJECT :—The Spiritual Sower. “Give ye ear, and hear my voice ; hearken, and hear my speech. Doth the plowman plow all day to sow ? doth he open and break the clods of his ground ?”—Isaiah xviii. 23, 24.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Twenty-second. A KNOWLEDGE of agriculture is almost essential to the right appreciation of many portions of the Bible. Many of the sacred figures are drawn from imagery, with which the agriculturist is familiar. The prophet Isaiah in describing the various means and modes which God employed for the instruction of his ancient people, in the text, refers to the process of sowing. “Give ye ear,” &c. The earliest mention we have of this art is in the book of Genesis, chap. xxvi. verse 12, where we are told that Isaac “sowed in that land.”.
It is certainly a pious cast of mind to make the present world subservient to the future; that which is without an image of what is within ; the visible a figure of the invisible; the operations of men illustrative of the workings of God. It is highly probable that when the prophet gave utterance to the words of the text, the agriculturists of Palestine were busy with such husbandry labors.
We shall draw a few reflections from this most interesting portion of the word of God. We observe :
I. THAT THE PROCESS OF SOWING IMPLIES A SOIL PREPARED FOR THE SEED. The art of ploughing or cultivating the soil
in early times was very simple. Modern improvements, in this, as well as in other departments, stand widely contrasted with the plan of the ancients. It is not our present design to enter into detail here. What I wish to observe is, that as the soil requires cultivation before the seed is cast into it, so the mind of man requires to undergo some cultivation before the good seed of the kingdom can be safely sown.
The reception of the gospel implies preceding thought, reflection, and resolution; which may be beautifully and characteristically expressed by the agricultural term, cultivation. There is a difference between a field ploughed up, and the fallow ground;—the one is ready to receive the seed, the other is not And there is as great a difference between a heart open to receive the truth, and a heart shut against it. With the sinner there must be thought of God, of the moral law, of sin, and of his relations to these.
Such a process may not occupy a long time, the spiritual farmer may plough and sow the same day ;-—and the sinner may have the fallow ground of his heart broken up, and the seed sown in less than one hour.
We observe :
TO THE SOIL.
II. THAT THE PROCESS OF SOWING IMPLIES SEED ADAPTED
There is a variety of seed mentioned in the text, and modern as well as ancient agriculture verifies the truth of the prophet's description.
Did our time and space permit, it might be interesting, and useful, to describe the different kinds of seed referred to. Observe that the prophet makes reference to “the principal wheat and the appointed barley.” The phrase “the principal wheat” has been variously explained. Some are of the opinion that it refers to the mode of sowing. The margin has it “wheat in the principal place.” South renders it "wheat in due measure ;" Aben Eyrd and Kimchi consider it to mean, “ by measure ;” i.e., the seed must be equally distributed over the soil; for were it sown too thickly, then
the stalks would be small and weak, the heads would crowd together and suffocate one another. Those who take this view regard the words as embodying the sentiment; “wheat sown according to rule.” The term “principal” may be regarded as denoting the quality of the wheat. Gesenius, following the Arabic, regards it as meaning "fat wheat.” The finest, or “the choicest,” wheat, would clearly point out the prophet's meaning. “The appointed barley.” In this phrase a word is used which may be traced to another meaning, “to mark with a seal;" so that the grain thus selected might be carefully passed, and used for seed ; being superior in quality. The great attention paid to seed corn can be traced to a very ancient date. The Romans chose the best of their crops for this purpose, sifting the seed carefully after it was threshed, that the largest and healthiest grains might be selected. Now all this will hold good in the moral, as well as in the agricultural sense.
First : Let the seed for the mind be marked as with a seal. As the ancients chose the best of their crops for seed, so let the truths selected for the mind be of the highest and holiest description. Let there be great care and watchfulness manifested here ; for if the seeds of error be sown in the human heart, these will germinate and grow, and bear their bitter fruits abundantly; and when the great and final harvest comes, what a crop of poisonous grain shall there be on which the soul must feed for ever! “Be not deceived, God is not mocked,” &c. O! that all men were as careful with what they fill their minds as the farmer is about his seed! “Prove all things,” &c.
Secondly: Let the seed for the mind be varied. The farmer is not always sowing the same kind of seed; but a variety of seeds, to suit all the different kinds of soils, and the same soil at different seasons. So the word of God, independent of other sources, furnishes a great variety of truths to suit the soul in every conceivable state. And the same truth is set forth in many different ways, and couched under many different figures, to fit all descriptions
of minds. Such a view is by no means a straining of the passage, as bringing a meaning out of it which was never intended by the Spirit. The text as a whole is figurative, and we cannot go far wrong in bearing the figurative element in mind when breaking it down into its specific parts. There is the “choicest wheat," and there are other seeds not so valuable, nevertheless precious in their own place, and which also receive a share of the husbandman's attention. There is “the choicest wheat,” which without hesitation, I would designate the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The history of Jesus of Nazareth, the tragedy of Calvary, the Saviour's passion substituted for the sinner's punishment, is the most precious of all truths to the sons of
But there are some who would hear nothing else, save the love of God and the sufferings of Christ. Exhort them to bend their minds to dutious habits, to exercise self-denial, to charity, to liberality, in a word to abound in every good word and work ;—that is all legality to them. Give us the “doctrines of grace" and the sufferings of Christ say they ; we like nothing so well as the Gospel. And true they will be melted to tears while listening to the story of a Saviour's love, the history of Jesus of Nazareth, or to an account of His passion, and a vivid description of the last tragical scene. Take them in imagination to the upper room, from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the Palace of Caiaphas, from the bar of Caiaphas to the judgment seat of Pilate, and thence to the cross, and they are delighted. Beloved brethren, when you find this the only acceptable theme, you may be sure it is all mere feeling ;-a morbid sentimentalism.
What would be the thought of the agriculturist after he had cultivated his land and prepared the soil for the reception of the seed, should some say, there is nothing so good and precious as “the choicest wheat” ? Suppose that all the farmers in England, Scotland, Ireland, America, and the world, were to do likewise ;nothing is sown but “ the choicest wheat,” and when harvest