« PreviousContinue »
Her child of promise snatch'd away,
None can the conflict tell,
Beneath that calm “'Tis well.”
To ask his aid she tried ;
And utterance was denied.
Brief was the triumph, faith revives ;
She cries with energy,
I will not part from thee.”
Can e'en the dead restore,
Her living child once more.
How sure the promise given !
The child she trained for heaven.
THE WOMAN THAT " WAS A SINNER.”
A SKETCH. The Lord Jesus having been invited by Simon the Pharisee “ to eat with him,” has entered his house, and is seated at his table.
Does Simon then love our master, that he thus desires his presence? Is his pharisaical pride humbled by a consciousness of sin, and is he so distressed thereby, as to seek a refuge from the wrath to come, and to look to the Son of God as a Saviour ? Has the love of the world given place to the love of the Lord, and the love of the brethren?
We must observe his actions which alone can lead us to a correct judgment, and prove his discipleship. The customs of the country require that the feet of an invited guest should be washed, and his head anointed : will not Simon, then, either perform these offices for Jesus, or enforce it upon his servants to do so ?
The meal is begun, and the feet of the honoured Master remain unwashed, and his head unanointed. Hence it is obvious that the pride of the Pharisee, which will not admit of the discharge of an act of established observance, is still unsubdued.
This reflection is interrupted by the entrance of a woman, who, filled with some high design, disregards the assembled company; she bears in her hand an alabaster vase, which, as she passes onwards, emits a fragrant odour : tremblingly she approaches Jesus and bends before him in a posture of adoration-she too, is a mourner, but it is not for the dead she weeps, -whence then her grief?
The expression of Simon's countenance informs us who she is ; he regards her with unmingled disdain, for “she is a sinner ;” as such she is known, and as such she knows herself. This conviction is the cause of her sorrow, which is so absorbing, that it banishes the fear of man, and fills this weeping female, abashed by a feeling of degradation, with sufficient courage to enter uninvited into the presence of the haughty, self-righteous Simon, that she may find access to Jesus ; for where He is, there, at all hazards must she also be. The unbending carriage of the master of the feast, his cold and forbidding looks, are alike unheeded; she sees no one but Jesus, she thinks of him alune, she seeks for, and hopes to obtain pardon, and she can receive no satisfaction at a distance from him through whom it is procured.
Standing in the presence of our Lord, how is she
received by him ? Does he who is purity, reject her with contempt? Does he despise the wounded spirit, which has led her to come unto him ? Must she seek other streams to prepare her for the well of water which springeth up into everlasting life? She has not forgotten her sins, even in the Redeemer's presence, neither does she esteem them light; she continues to weep, and with her flowing tears she washes the feet of Jesus, and wipes them with the hairs of her head, and kisses his feet, and anoints them with the ointment. The unpardoned sinner weeps not for sin, not knowing its sinfulness; but to the pardoned, God by his prophet says, “ They will remember and be confounded, and never open their mouth any more, because of their shame, when I am pacified towards them for all that they have done, saith the Lord God.”
“Now when the pharisee which had bidden him, saw it, he spake within himself, saying, this man, if he were a prophet, would have known what manner of woman this is that toucheth him, for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering these thoughts, said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee, and he saith, Master, say on.” Upon which our Lord relates a parable of two debtors, one of whom owed much, the other little, to the same creditor; “and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both: tell me,” continued our Lord, addressing Simon, “ which of these will love him most ?" Simon replies in a way to secure our Lord's approbation, and at the same time to condemn his own hard thoughts, “I suppose he to whom he forgave most.”
Our Lord directs Simon to apply this parable to the case of the woman. She possesses that grateful love, which entitles her at all times to enter into his presence; and he turns to the woman, and says 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; mine head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment; wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven her, for she loved much, but to whom little is given, the same loveth little.” “Assuredly, therefore, I tell thee, Simon, that so far from this woman being unworthy to come near me, by reason of her sins, which are indeed great and many, that on the contrary, God having forgiven her, and her repentance being sincere, the sense of his mercy hath filled her heart with such love and gratitude, as expresses itself in extraordinary instances of humble and devout thankfulness.”
But Simon must apply the parable to himself as well as the woman, before he understands its full meaning. Simon is the creditor who owed little, and he thinks he who is willing frankly to forgive him, confers but a small obligation :—he forgets that he is as unable as the woman which owed much, to discharge that obligation; and instead of treating Jesus with affectionate regard, his conduct is not only cold and indifferent, but it displays tokens of studied contempt, which are apparent to all.
Our Lord again says unto the woman, “thy sins are forgiven;" upon which some of them that sat at meat with him, imbued with the spirit of Simon, began to say within themselves, Who is this that
forgiveth sins also,—that assumes the prerogative of God?
But Jesus proved to the woman that his words were not vain, for she feels that peace, which it is alone in the power of God to bestow; and he said to her, “thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace.”
MEMORANDA OF THE PAST MONTH. SERVANTS' HOME.—Forty-seven young women have registered for situations. Seventeen have been received as lodgers. Twenty-four families have been suited with servants.
INDIGENT REFUGE.—Twelve young girls have applied for admission. Six have been admitted, and a like number has been clothed and placed out at service.
PROBATIONARY HOUSE.-Applicants for refuge 36; admitted 17"; sent to District Asylums, or suited with situations, 5; present number in the house forty-four.
“The Secretary of the Ladies' Committee has nothing particular to state with respect to the inmates of the Probationary House; but one circumstance occurred last Committee-day which may be gratifying to the Gentlemen's Committee. It is this—One of the applicants for admission to the house, stated that she heard of the Asylum from a young woman who met her, and strongly urged her to apply for refuge, stating that she herself had once enjoyed the advantages of the Society's care, and was now living in respectable servitude. Is not this the spirit of the Gospel? Having received shelter herself she was anxious that others also should flee for refuge."
Extract from Weekly Report of Secretary.