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are yet on earth, there is still space for repentance and remission of sin. But this parable too plainly confirms the certainty, that though there is room for sorrow and remorse, there is no room for repentance or change of condition in the grave.
PARABLE OF THE UNJUST JUDGE.
LUKE Xviii. 1-8.
1. "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2. " Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man :
3. "And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4. "And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard
5. "Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me."
We cannot mistake the purport of the parable. It was spoken to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint: that having an object which they desire to obtain from God, they should seek it of him, and persist in seeking it, by earnest and continual prayer. The widow had her object that she might be avenged of her adversary, i.e. that some one who had taken advantage of her helpless condition to do her in
jury, might be brought by the judge to give her her just rights. But the point to be observed is, the manner in which she offers her petition. Not carelessly, not hypocritically, not occasionally: not after the manner in which we fear that the prayers of the church, and the prayers of the family, and the prayers of the closet, are too often offered. It was not that sort of prayer which the judge was so afraid of, that he granted the poor widow her entreaty, lest by her continual coming she should weary him.
When God, by the mouth of his prophet, (Mal. i. 8,) was reproving the Israelites for their hypocrisy, because they pretended to come to him with sacrifice, but brought the blind, and the sick, and the lame, instead of the male without blemish and without spot:-he said, "Offer it now unto thy governor: will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person ?" So might we often say of what is termed prayer. Offer it to the governor, and see whether it will prevail with him. Offer it to the rich man, and see whether it will be answered by a gift. Offer it to the adversary whom you have offended, and see whether it will incline him to be reconciled.
To avoid such worse than useless prayer, often reflect what prayer is: the chain between heaven and earth, by which God's blessings are brought down to us-the blessings of this world, and of that which is to come-the blessings of pardon, and grace, and spiritual joy. Let this thought rouse our dull and sluggish hearts; and incline
us to put up one prayer, at least, with meaning and earnestness, that we may be enabled to pray with faith, and pray with life! But the point which the parable is especially directed to show, is, that prayer must be persevered in, till the object we desire is gained. That which the widow
sought, the judge refused for a while but afterward he said within himself, Because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6. "And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7. "And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though He bear long with them?
8. "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth ?"
These words point out to us, that when we desire anything in this world, we seek it with perseverance: we do not easily take a denial; and often procure by importunity, what otherwise we never should have succeeded in obtaining.
God invites us to follow the same course, in those things which we ask of Him, and which he alone can grant us. All, for example, have need of pardon. It often happens that persons who have sought this, and rightly sought it, through the blood of the Redeemer, yet cannot obtain peace of mind. They are still fearful of the wrath of God. Death still appears to them as the king of terrors. This parable, however, forbids them to yield to despondency, and cease
from seeking. This parable is to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Shall not God avenge his own elect, though he bear long with them? God may delay his answer, but he always hears the prayer of faith. And at the right time his answer will arrive. We may speak also of affliction; such as loss of friends, or disease, or pain, or indigence. God often sees fit to visit men with such trials. They betake themselves to prayer. Those, even, who have been little used to prayer fly to it as their best refuge under the pressure of affliction. And if I would explain to you what real prayer is, I should send you to the bed of some sick person, who believes himself within a few hours of death: or to some tender parent, whose child is in urgent danger: or to some diseased sufferer, who is racked with the severity of pain. When you witnessed their fervour, and heard their entreaties for relief, you would no longer doubt whether their hearts were engaged in prayer.
Be encouraged, by the example in the parable, to persist in this earnest suit. The very reason why God bears so long with his people, is that he may try, and confirm their faith. "Tribulation worketh patience." "He knows what ye have need of before you ask him." And it might be inquired, Why then need we ask? Simply that we may feel our dependence on him, and that we may show our dependence on him : that we may learn to hope against hope; that we may" rejoice in the Lord," though all things
seem adverse; and like suffering Job, "though he slay us, yet trust in him.'
Many encouragements to this confidence may be taken from the circumstances of the parable. The widow, for instance, was a stranger; no way related to the judge. But Christians are the elect of God: his favoured and peculiar people those whom he has chosen to receive his offer of salvation: those whom he has called to become his children by adoption in Christ Jesus. The unjust judge relieved the stranger widow: and shall not God avenge his own elect?
Further, with a character like that of the judge, the widow had little ground for hope. He was known neither to fear God, nor regard man. God has implanted in mankind a salutary love of the good opinion of others, that they who fear not Him who is invisible, may yet be restrained by a sense of what is valuable to themselves. This judge had neither of such motives to incline him in the suitor's favour. We, on the other hand, apply to a loving and compassionate Father. "Turn (says the prophet) unto the Lord your God: for He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." And shall not He avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him?
The poor widow, again, had none to intercede for her. To this severe judge, from whom so little was to be hoped, she was forced to go alone. But we have one to plead for us, who
'Job xiii. 15.
2 Joel ii. 13.