« AnteriorContinua »
to accommodations in his very high opinion of him. in Simon's house, a woman, who was a sinner, came in with an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping; she also washed his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head; she kissed them affectionately and anointed them with the ointment; which when Simon saw, he said, within himself, 'If this man was a prophet, he would know who, and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner.' By this, it is evident, that Simon did not look on himself to be a sinner as was the woman, and that he believed Christ was an impostor, as he pretended to a wisdom which would certainly have enabled him to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked; and if Christ had known that the woman was a sinner, he would, by no means, have suffered her to come nigh him, much less to do those offices for him. These, undoubtedly, are the thoughts which Simon had on that occasion. In the parable, Christ makes his statement according to the Pharisee's ideas of himself and of the
house, yet, entertained no Christ being seated at meat
1. Christ represents himself by a creditor who had two debtors.
2. The woman is represented as a great sinner, by the debtor who owed five hundred pence.
3. Simon the Pharisee, is represented by the debtor who owed only fifty pence.
4. That sinners have no power to atone for their sins, is shown by the debtor's having nothing to pay.
5. The pardoning mercy of the gospel, by which, both Pharisees and sinners finally obtain forgiveness of sin, is shown by the creditor's forgiving both.
Christ then asks Simon, Which of them will love him most? Simon answers, 'I suppose he, to whom he forgave most;' by which answer, this self-righteous Pharisee was entirely refuted in respect to his notions of righteousness. For, admitting Simon to be as holy as he looked on himself to be, and the woman as great a sinner as he supposed, she not only stood in more need of mercy than he, but would surely love Christ better in the same ratio as her sins were greater, or more numerous than his. This was something of a usual method with the Saviour: he generally confounded his adversaries on the ground of their own choice. But had Simon's sins been set in order before him at that time, as Saul's were afterwards, no doubt he would have confessed the debt of five hundred pence, and, humbling himself, would have rejoiced in him who deigned to forgive.
That darling notion, which, in all ages of the world, has been so acceptable to religious people, that favorite opinion of a total difference, in the sight of God, between the true worshippers, and those who were not, was as much contended for in the days of Christ on earth, as it is now and it appears evident that Simon the Pharisee was as fully in this current sentiment as are any in this day. The effect which this opinion had on Simon, was the same that is now produced from the same cause. Simon supposed that Christ was no prophet because he did not know what manner of woman that was who showed so much affection for him. See verse 39: Now when the Pharisee, which
had bidden him, saw it, he spoke within himself, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him; for she is a sinner.' Simon surely would not have entertained any better opinion of Jesus if he had known that he did know what manner of woman that was, and still indulged her approach to himself; for then even ignorance could not have been pleaded to extenuate the offence. It was, therefore, the most favorable conclusion which Simon could make, to suppose that Jesus was indeed no prophet, and was ignorant of the sinfulness of that woman. It is but just to notice also, that this Pharisee was deserving of commendation, not only for being disposed to make the most favorable conclusion possible in this case, but for being one of the most decent and civil of his order, for he did not break out in a rage, and order his guest out of his house, nor did he speak of the unfavorable opinion which he was obliged to entertain of Jesus, to others, but only spake of it within himself. Therefore, while we find the sentiment of Simon perfectly to agree with the sentiment of the Pharisees in the present day, we find in his conduct an example worthy of their imitation.
The sentiment communicated by the foregoing parable and application, is subject to the following objections, from the doctrine of the Pharisees, as stated in the first illustration :
1. If the great sinner may obtain forgiveness as well as he whose sins are much less, then there is no encouragement to do well
2. If the great sinner will, in consequence of being forgiven, love the Saviour more than he whose sins are much less, it appears to be an encouragement to add
iniquity to transgression, and to become as sinful as possible, so that the greater love may be exercised when forgiveness is obtained.
3. The whole, when put together, amounts to this; Sin is better than righteousness, vice is better than virtue, irreligion is better than religion, and it is no matter how badly people act: the righteous, who pay strict attention to the things of religion, and abstain from a thousand enjoyments of this life, are mere fools for all their pains: it would be as well for them, and even better, if they should indulge themselves in all manner of vice and wickedness.
4. It must be evident to every rational mind, that such doctrine is false, and that whoever teaches such doctrine, is an enemy to the truth.
The foregoing objections are as naturally drawn from the doctrine of the Pharisees, which doctrine is the current doctrine of the christian church in the present day, as darkness is the natural consequences of the absence of light. These objections may be thus answered. 1. If Jesus spoke this parable, in its peculiar form, with a design to answer Simon according to his own views of his being less a sinner than that woman was, it is by no means necessary to suppose that Jesus looked on the woman to be any more sinful than Simon. Therefore, if Simon was as great a sinner as the woman, he would love Jesus as well as the woman did, when he should know himself, and feel his sins forgiven. 2. If no one can enter the kingdom of heaven, unless their righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, it is evident that both ancient and modern Pharisees are equally dependent on the Lord our righteousness, for justification unto life, as others. 3. It is evident that the Pharisees
have a mistaken notion of sin, righteousness, vice, virtue, irreligion and religion. All their righteousness, their virtue and their religion is consistent with an irreconcilable enmity towards those who do not agree with them in opinions and religious rites. This enmity being directly contrary to the love which Jesus manifested towards sinners, we are authorised to believe that such enmity, and all the righteousness, virtue and religion which are consistent with it, are opposed to the Lord our righteousness and to his gospel. 4. It is evident that Jesus of Nazareth preached a righteousness, a system of moral virtue, and taught a religion, which were consistent with love to sinners, and the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, to be active in the righteousness, virtue and religion of Christ, it is necessary for us to feel the need and benefits of forgiveness ourselves, and to be disposed thereby to grant the same inestimable blessings to others who stand in the same need.
It will be granted, on all sides, that this woman possessed more of the spirit of Christ than Simon did. This is evident from what Jesus said to Simon, see verse 44-46: 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. Mine head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.' From this it is safe to conclude, that those who are disposed to pour forth the tears of penitence and gratitude at the feet of him who forgives our many sins, are possessed of more of the spirit of