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66 THE DESIGN OF JOB'S AFFLICTIONS.
"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
Shortly you will be called to quit the scenes of your earthly pilgrimage, when you will leave behind you all your sorrows, and enter the land of rest and peace, where "the days of your mourning will be ended, and God will wipe away all tears from your eyes."
FORGIVENESS OF SINS.
Luke vii. 41, 42.
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.
It has frequently been remarked, that parables are intended to communicate reproof in the most convincing, and at the same time in the least offensive, manner; and persons have oftentimes received it in this way, when a direct accusation would have so irritated them, as to prevent its intended and desired effect. When David committed sin, in the affair of Bathsheba, the prophet administered reproof to him in a parable, the beauty and efficacy of which can scarcely be exceeded. "The Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock, and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him, but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die; and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man." The parable from which the text is taken, is likewise admirably adapted to the occasion. It was spoken as a reproof to a mistaken Pharisee. The Pharisees in general avoided holding any friendly intercourse with the Redeemer. Some of them, grossly hypocritical in their professions of the strictest piety, and most of them corrupted by a proud selfrighteous spirit, they were over contending and disputing with Jesus. They were among the most bitter enemies of the Saviour, during the time of his public ministry. One of them, however, more open to conviction than the rest, and perhaps affected with something our Lord had been saying, "desired him that he would eat bread with him." And the blessed Redeemer, a stranger to resentment and prejudice, accepted the invitation, and sat down to meat. And now an extraordinary incident occurs. A woman that was a sinner, in a degree which rendered the appellation more peculiarly appropriate, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, entered it, probably drawn by veneration and love to the Saviour, who had enlightened her understanding, and by his Spirit brought her to a conviction of her sins. This penitent, desiring to give some testimony of her affection for that compassionate Redeemer who had lately said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," had "brought with her 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." Probably when Simon invited the Saviour to his house, he supposed him to be a prophet sent of God. But his opinion is changed as soon as he sees him permitting this woman to perform these kind and affectionate offices. He concluded that, if Jesus had been a prophet or servant of God, he would immediately have perceived the character of this woman, and would have repulsed her with that contempt and disdain, which he supposed she had justly merited. He expected that Christ would have sharply rebuked her, and have said, "Stand by, for I am holier than thou." Little did he think that the guest he had invited to his table had eyes like a flame of fire, searching the very secrets of the heart. Jesus, however, observing the workings of his mind, thus addresses him :—" Simon, 1 have somewhat to sav unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on." On this, the Lord Jesus replies in the words of our text:—" 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."
This text, taken in connexion with the context, affords an occasion for the discussion of the important doctrine of the forgiveness of sins. This is the great leading doctrine of the gospel; from which, in fact, it receives its name, as " a message of glad tidings." It may be considered as that prime blessing of the grace of God, to which all the other spiritual and eternal benefits of redemption are subsequently added. All the mercies of salvation, and all the graces of the Christian life, are virtually contained in, and connected with, the forgiveness of sins. All the display of God's love to us, and of his sanctifying Spirit working in us, are only the continuation and unfolding of this first blessing. The remission of sin is the prelude of our introduction into the family of God as his adopted children, and of our receiving all the spiritual and eternal advantages promised in the gospel of Christ. What is said of the infinite mercy of God, in ordaining the means of forgiveness, is no less true with respect to his mercy in actually conferring it upon the individual who receives it. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Whom he justified, them he also glorified." In forgiving our sins, therefore, the merciful God, through the grace of his beloved Son,