"Two men were debtors to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.
1. He was an eminently respectable man; he was so in the true sense of the word, for as a virtuous man he could respect himself, and his neighbours could rightly respect him; he conformed his conduct to a high standard of morality.
2. He was an open-handed, hospitable man.
3. He was an open-minded man. It was not every Pharisee that would have invited Jesus Christ to supper, or would have given him such freedom to speak his mind without resentment. But he was a much-mistaken man. He was quite wrong in three important points.
I. HIS ESTIMATE OF JESUS CHRIST. When he found that Jesus did not resent the attention of "this woman," he came to the conclusion that he could not be a prophet, or he would have known that she was a sinner, and, knowing that, he would have repelled her. Here he was wrong in his conclusion; and he was also wrong in his reasoning. His argument was this: a man as holy as a prophet would be certain to repel such guilt as is present here; when the Holy Prophet comes, the Messiah, ha will be more scrupulously separate from sin and from sinners than any other has been. Here he was completely mistaken. The Holy One came to be the Merciful One; to say to guilty men and women, "Your fellows may despair of you and abandon you. I despair of none, I abandon nobody. I see in all the possibilities of recovery; I summon you all to repentance and to life. Touch me, if you will, with the hand of your faith; I will lay my hand of help and healing upon you."
II. HIS VIEW OF THAT WOMAN.. A sinner she had been; but she was more, and indeed other than a sinner now. That word did not faithfully describe her state before God. She was a penitent. And what is a penitent? A penitent soul is one who hates the sin that had been cherished, who has cast out the evil spirit from him, in whom is the living germ of righteousness, who is on the upward line that leads to heavenly wisdom and Divine worth, on whom God is looking down with tender grace and deep satisfaction, in whom Jesus Christ beholds a servant, a friend, an heir of his holy kingdom. This is not one to turn away from in scorn, but to draw nigh unto in kindness and encouragement.
III. HIS ESTIMATE OF HIMSELF.
1. He thought himself a very long way on in the kingdom of God as compared with that poor woman; he did not know that, she being poor in spirit and he being proud in spirit, she was much nearer to its entrance-gates than he.
2. He thought himself in a position to patronize Jesus Christ, and consequently withheld some of the usual courtesies from his Guest; he did not know that it was on himself the distinction was conferred.
3. He supposed himself to be possessed of all the cardinal virtues: he did not know that he lacked that which is the crowning excellence of all - love, the love that can pity, that can stoop to save. We draw two main lessons.
1. That Christ makes much of love. Dwelling on the various manifestations of this woman's feeling, he declares they are the signs of her love, and he then traces her love to her deep sense of forgiven sin. God wants our love, as we want the love of our children and of our friends, and cannot accept anything, however valuable, in its stead: so Christ wants the pure, deep, lasting affection of our souls. No ceremonies, or services, or even sacrifices, will compensate for its absence (see 1 Corinthians 13.). And the measure of our love will depend on the depth of our sense of God's forgiving love toward us. Hence it is of the first importance that we
(1) should understand how much God has forgiven us, how great and serious our guilt has been (see preceding homily);
(2) should recognize how great and full is the Divine forgiveness, how much it includes - how much in the sense of overlooking the past, and in the way of granting us present favour and of promising us future blessedness. Our wisdom and our duty, therefore, is to dwell on the greatness of God's mercy to us in Jesus Christ, to rejoice much in it, to let our souls bathe in the thought of it, be filled continually with a sense of it. For they who are (consciously) forgiven much will love much; and they who love much will be much beloved of God (John 14:23).
2. That we should be ready to receive Christ's correcting word. Simon was wholly wrong in his estimate of men and of things; but he was not unwilling to hear Christ's correcting word. "Master, say on," he replied, when the great Teacher said, "I have somewhat to say unto thee." Let us see to it that this is our attitude. Our Lord may have something very serious to say to us, as he had to those seven Churches in Asia Minor, which he addressed from his heavenly throne (Revelation 2., 3.). When, through his Word, his ministry, his providence, he does thus correct us, calling us to a renewed humility, faith, love, zeal, consecration, are we ready to receive his message, to bow our head, to open our heart, and say, "Speak, Lord; thy servants hear! Master, say on"? - C.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors.
1. How many daily spend of God's stock and store. Neither man nor beast (for the use of man), but daily receive from His hand, and seek to be further trusted (Psalm 104:27). It would undo the richest man that ever was to have so many in his debt at once.
2. Think how prodigal and expensive men are in spending on God's stock; how prodigal of His mercy, patience, goodness, &c. (Romans 2:4, 5). How lavish are men of the time lent, of health, wealth, &c. (Luke 15.). Look but on the life of some one sinner, and judge of the rest (Hosea 12:1; Jeremiah 20:7).
3. Consider we with ourselves how long God hath forborne and been out of purse.
4. Add to all God's bounty and liberality — which is renewed to us daily — He is as willing still to lend us, as if we had paid Him in all, and owed Him not a groat.
5. In all our wants and needs, from hence we have direction to whom to go a-borrowing.(1) He is a bountiful Creditor, and no needy one; better provided than any other. He hath for our need, and always is at home.(2) He stands not upon any great security; He is willing to take our words, our promises, for the payment (Genesis 28:20; 1 Samuel 1:11; Matthew 18:26, 27). Only He expects that we should be just of our words, that we may be again trusted (Ecclesiastes 5:4),(3) Though we borrow of him to-day, yet if we stand in need of Him to-morrow, as questionless we shall, and desire to be further trusted, He will be willing to pleasure us, especially when He sees we employ those talents well wherewith He hath betrusted us.
(N. Rogers.)1. A day is set for the payment of other debts. Till the day be come we fear no arrest, they cannot be exacted. But the sinner goes in danger every hour; God may arrest him whensoever it pleaseth Him, as He often doth and hath done, when men think themselves most safe (1 Samuel 15:32; Daniel 5:4-30; Job 21:13).
2. Other debts make us liable but to a bodily arrest only. The conscience may be free; but the debt of sin doth endanger both body and soul too.
3. Other debts may be forgotten, and so not required; but the debt of sin cannot be forgotten of the Lord (Amos 8:7). He keepeth a debt-book, wherein all is written, with the day and place, &c. (Isaiah 65:6). Cain's debt is as fresh in God's mind as if it were but yesterday.
4. From ether debtors there may be some protection, either place or person may keep us from arrest; but there is no protection against the Lord's attachments. Angels nor men cannot save us (Job 10:7). The horns of the altar cannot protect us (1 Kings 2:28-31). Nor can mountains and rocks conceal us (Revelation 6:16).
5. There may be a flying away from other debtors, and a hiding ourselves from man's attachments; but flying here will not save us (Psalm 139:7).
6. In man's prison some favour may be showed, good usage obtained; but in the prison wherein sin doth cast us, there is no ease.
7. If thou art not freed out of the hands of other creditors, by friends or other means, yet death will free thee. But it is not so here, the debt which sin cast thee into is most called for, and most terrible after death.
(N. Rogers.)Luke 16:5); and by other express scripture (Matthew 11:21; Matthew 12:31; Matthew 23:14, 15, 24).
2. Again, all are not alike deep in respect of actual transgressions. For albeit original sin be equally and alike extended unto all, it hath no degree nor parts in any child of Adam more than other: yet actual sins committed by us are of a thousand kinds, and every vice hath its latitude and degree. Some are bound up in folio, other some in quarto, others in octavo, and the sins of some other in a decimo sexto.
3. We have learned better, and accordingly we should examine of what kind our sins are, and how much our debt is; and as we find, let us put down in our account. To help us a little in this our search, take this for a general rule, the more directly any sin is done against God, the greater the sin is to be accounted of, and the more the debt. Thus the sin against the Holy Ghost is the greatest sin, because he who committeth that sin, sinneth of malice, purposely to despite the Spirit of grace. Hence it follows —(1) The sins of the highest degree against the first table are greater than the sins of the highest degree against the second table.(2) Those sins that are committed against the means which should keep us from sin are greater than other (Matthew 11:24). So sins against knowledge are greater than those that are committed out of simple ignorance (Luke 12:47; James 4:17). And as it is thus in the sins of omission, so also in the sins of commission (Acts 3:17; 1 Timothy 1:13). Paul found mercy, because he did it ignorantly. So sins against the gospel are greater than those against the law, for that they are committed against more light. "This is the condemnation," saith Christ, "that light is come into the world" (John 3:19). To commit sin in the clear light of the gospel is a reproach not much unlike that of Absolom. "He committed wickedness in the sight of the sun "(3) Sins often committed are greater than those but once committed by us, for that here is an abusing of God s patience and forbearance (Romans 2:4, 5; Jeremiah 5:6; 2 Peter 2:22). In arithmetic a figure, in the first place, stands for itself; in the second place, it stands for ten; and, in the third place, for a hundred, and so higher.
(N. Rogers.)1. That the nature of sin stands not in the material part, but in the form, which is the transgression of the law.
2. Small sins, with their multitude and number, hurt the soul as much as great sins do with their weight.
3. Small sins serve to make way for greater. Huntsmen first ply the deer with their little beagles, till it be heated and blown, and then they put on their great buckhounds. Such use the devil makes of little sins. A long thread of iniquity he hath let in with a small needle, as we find in David's case, and in Peter's, &c. A great fire hath been kindled by a little spark; and a great blot made with a little hair hanging in the pen.
4. Small sins are cured with more difficulty than greater. A wound made with a stiletto is more dangerous than a wound made with Goliath's sword; here the wound presently closeth up, and so bleeds inwardly in greater abundance.
5. Forget not what Christ suffered for small sins, even His precious blood (Hebrews 9:7). Our great sins were as the spear in His side, and as the nails in His blessed hands and feet; and our small sins were as the thorns upon His head, they, though small, yet put Him to pain and grief. How dare we crown the Son of God (again) with thorns, and put Him by our small sins to an after suffering?
(N. Rogers.)I. IT IS AN UNSPEAKABLE MERCY TO HAVE OUR SINS FORGIVEN. This is the first desire and prayer of an awakened sinner, and a principal blessing in the covenant of grace.
II. IT IS THE SOLE PREROGATIVE OF GOD TO FORGIVE SIN. None can pass by an offence but the party offended, and none can discharge a debt but the person with whom it was contracted.
III. THOSE TO WHOM GOD FORGIVES SIN HAVE NOTHING TO PAY. The whole creation is become insolvent.
IV. THOSE WHOSE SINS ARE PARDONED ARE FIRST BROUGHT TO SEE THAT THEY HAVE NOTHING TO PAY.
V. THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS IS ALL OF GRACE.
VI. THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN TENDS TO GLORIFY GOD. Hence we may learn —
1. How much those wrong God who entertain hard thoughts of Him.
2. What gratitude and love is due to Him from those whose sins are pardoned!
(B. Beddome, M. A.)From the whole, we may observe these six things.
1. That sinners are in debt to God, as having violated His law, and so laid themselves open to the punishment threatened: "The wages of sin is death."
2. Some have contracted greater guilt, and so are more in debt to God than others, as having laid themselves open to greater punishment; from the greater advantages they have enjoyed and abused, they have more to answer for and more to fear.
3. It is the common condition of sinners indebted to God that they have nothing to pay, nothing to satisfy Divine justice, or redeem themselves from deserved wrath.
4. God is able and ready to forgive the greatest debt and debtors, as well as the least; those that owe five hundred pence, as well as those that owe fifty.
5. Whom God forgives, He forgives freely; not excluding the satisfaction of Christ, but upon the account of it, which is so far from lessening the freeness of that grace that forgives us, that it greatly exalts it.
I. SOME WHO HAVE RUN FAR IN DEBT TO GOD HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN. Manasseh in the Old Testament, and Paul and Mary Magdalene.
1. Thus He magnifies His patience, and proves it Divine, the patience of God, and not of a creature, much less of a man. (1 Timothy 1:16.)
2. Some whose iniquities have abounded have been forgiven, for the greater exaltation of grace. Grace is thus exalted and glorified —(1) In its fulness; that so where sin hath abounded grace may much more abound.(2) Herein grace shines in its freeness: which, that it may be regarded, it is God's method, before He makes the offer of pardon, to sum up what sinners have been and done (Isaiah 43:22-24).
II. WHAT THERE IS IN FORGIVING GRACE TO BE AN ARGUMENT FOR LOVE IN THOSE THAT RECEIVE IT. If blessedness be an argument for love, forgiveness has this belonging to it, and connected with it (Psalm 32:1, 2). This is a comprehensive blessing, and the foundation of many others. They who have their sins forgiven, are freed from the greatest evil, the wrath of God, and eternal condemnation. Pardon of sin is a covenant-mercy, always connected with the favour of God, and a special relation to to Him. The pardon of sin will sweeten every other mercy, and render any outward burden or affliction tolerable. Sin imbitters, and adds a weight to any affliction; but pardon doth lighten and sweeten it. In a word, the sinner, pardoned in this world, shall have eternal life in the future.
III. How GOD'S GRACE, AS FREELY FORGIVING GREATER DEBTS, SHOULD LEAD THE FORGIVEN SOUL TO LOVE HIM THE MORE.And here God's rich grace, freely forgiving greater debts —
1. Tends to this, as it frees the soul from greater torment, to which its multiplied sins laid it open, especially those committed against light and grace.
2. God's mercy, as forgiving greater debts, may free the soul from the more tormentful apprehensions it is under, even here, of the wrath to come, and so engage Him to love the more.
3. The greater and more astonishing grace abounding towards great sinners, and singling them out for mercy when others are left, is another ground of greater love.Application:
1. Have such as have run deeply in debt to God been freely forgiven by Him? What reason have we, then, to believe Him when He declares Himself thus, "As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live"!
2. How unreasonable are the hard and horrid thoughts whereby sinners, awakened to a sense of their vileness and guilt, are kept off from a forgiving God?
3. How disingenuous would it be for any to go on with the greater security and boldness in sin, because God is ready so freely to forgive the greatest debt?
4. For the greatest sinners to say, There is no hope in their case, is to say what they have no warrant for, from God or His Word.
5. Let such as have any good hope that their debts, how large soever, are forgiven, love much, yea, love the more, the larger their debts have been. If we are pardoned at all, it is a very great debt from which we are discharged. O let us labour after suitable affection, and show it.(1) By reflecting upon sin with the greater shame and sorrow, hatred and abhorrence, as committed against so good a God.(2) Having much forgiven, love God the more, and give Him the glory due unto His name. "Who is a God like unto Thee, who pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by transgression," &c.(3) Having much forgiven, let your love show itself greater by your growing esteem of Jesus Christ, whose blood was the price of your pardon, and though it is given you freely, cost Him His life.
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