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cannot plead in vain. "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins." He ever liveth at the right hand of God, to make intercession for us." And he bids us "come boldly to the throne of grace." For he has said, Shall not God avenge his own elect? I tell you, that He will avenge them speedily.
Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith in the earth? Shall He find men believing and acting upon the truth, that God does regard his people, and will make a final difference between them and others? We know not how this may prove, when the Son of man cometh. But we do know that there never yet has been a period, when, if he had come, He would have found this faith general in the earth.
However, the great and important thing is, that it exist in ourselves. Would He find it in ourselves, if He were to issue his summons now? Would He find us believing that there is a people which is of God, as there is a people which is not of God, in the world? And would He find us ranged among those which are of God, and marked as such by our faith and practice?
Our earnest, persevering prayer must be, that we may be so found at the last: that, by "his special grace preventing us, He may put into our hearts good desires, and by his continual help enable us to bring the same to good effect, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
3 See Mal. iii. 18.
PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN.
LUKE Xviii. 9-14.
9. "And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised
10. "Two men went up to the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12. "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13. "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14. "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
We are expressly informed, against what character of persons this parable is directed: against certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. This was the character of the Pharisees in general. It was the foundation of the reproach which they frequently cast upon Jesus and his disciples, because they ate with publicans and sinners. They trusted in themselves that they were righteous. They "rested in the law, and
made their boast of God, and were confident that they were guides of the blind." They despised others: saying of them, "This people, which know not the law, are cursed." Stand bye, come not near me, I am holier than thou." a
Now a spirit like this shuts the heart against "the truth as it is in Jesus." It is an absolute barrier against the reception of the Gospel. "They that are whole need not a physician." He who perceives no darkness within, will never look up to that "light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." He who does not feel himself to be heavy laden with the sinfulness which he bears about him, will never take up the yoke of Christ as an easier burthen.
The spirit which despises others is less common now than it was among the Jews. But the spirit which trusts in itself that it is righteous, is always too active among mankind. Men do not indeed go into the temple, and utter a prayer like that of the Pharisee, because the church supplies them with prayers in a very different strain. But their inward trust is often no other than this: they are not as other men are: their neighbours are worse, or at least no better: and they have kept clear from many notorious vices: they are not extortioners, unjust, adulterers: they call to mind the sins which they have avoided, rather than those into which they have fallen: their language is that of boasting, not of penitence: and the sum is, that God cannot in justice con
'See Rom. ii.
2 John vii. 49. Isa. lxv. 5.
demn them, unless He condemns the whole world.
It is only when divine grace touches the heart, that it recoguises its own sinfulness. Hold up to a man the clearest mirror, in which he may see his character reflected to the life: he will not perceive the resemblance, unless his eyes are opened by the Spirit of God. And he then discovers a thousand sins, where before all appeared clear and pure. The sunbeam shows the motes floating in the air. They had been there before, but were not perceived before. But they are perceived now: and he stands afar off, and dares not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but smites upon his breast and says, God be merciful to me a sinner.
This is the spirit which finds favour with God. The spirit of one who feels, as well as owns, his unworthiness: which smites upon the breast, and seems to say, This heart has departed from God: which dares not raise the eye to heaven, the abode of holiness, and think himself fit to obtain a place there. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. A man is justified, accounted righteous, in one of two ways: either by being proved free from sin; or by being treated as if he had not sinned. The Pharisee had depended upon being free from sin. God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are. But in this way shall no man living be really justified: for "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." The pub
lican, on the contrary, confessed his sinfulness, and lamented it; and therefore he received pardon: like David, who when he humbled himself before God, saying, "I have sinned against the Lord;" was greeted with the blessed reply, "The Lord hath put away thy sin." For every one that exalteth himself, shall be abased: and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.
It is this humble, penitent, self-condemning spirit, which the parable is designed to recommend. It is not meant to intimate that there is no difference between the good and the bad man for there is a wide difference. It is not meant to intimate that a man does wrong in being thankful, because he has been preserved from those crimes, "on account of which the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience." The Pharisee is not condemned, because he had been free from those vices: but for pride and boasting. The publican is not justified, because of his sinfulness, but because of his contrition. Whatever the Pharisee had not been, he had the great crime of self-righteousness and spiritual pride. Whatever the publican had been, he had now that contrite spirit, to which the promises of the gospel are engaged, and which is in the sight of God of great price.
Doubtless there is a spirit, in which a man may look back upon his past life, and be thankful that he is not as too many are, extortioners,