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the depths of shame, love can lift the soul to the light again, and almost to heaven. The Devil has not fairly secured his victim, until the very embers of love are extinguished in the hearth-fire of the heart. In the lowest and basest class of society, that which preys on every other class, the foulest vices and the darkest crimes have just one feature which redeems them from being hellish, and that is the unselfish love, which sometimes burns with a strange purity, on the altar of the corruptest heart.
This woman was a sinner. Love was dead within her. Frowned on by all, she had learnt only to hate. The blessedness of loving was a memory of the past. She had known it once, but a great gulf had opened between her and that happy time. She could recall it only as Eve remembered Eden : dimly, as through tears, and from afar. It was long since the pulses of pleasure had been quickened by any thing more holy than the sullen heat of passion, or the dull fury of revenge. Jesus made her a woman again. The tendrils of love, torn from their pristine hold, all tangled and rotting on the damp earth whereon she grovelled, began to tingle and thrill again. As a mother joys to hear the first faint cry of her little one, she joyed to feel the first faint throbbing of the pulses of a pure and heavenly love. “ Come unto me," said a Being full of life and of wisdom, a Being of celestial goodness, holiness, and truth. She felt, lost as she was, that she could love that Man of Sorrows; she felt that the cords of love and the bands of a man, were drawing the poor outcast of earth to his heart. Heaven seemed to open above her and beam its benediction. Earth smiled around her, all things dressed themselves in new beauty, the very air was glad, when the first glow of love breathed through her spirit. Her sin was still there. She needed none to remind her of it. Never had she felt so intensely as at that moment the blackness of her transgression. Never-else what mean those blinding tears?—had the anguish of contrition so preyed upon her heart. But love was there-love, celestial spirit—and some sure instinct told her that the celestial spirit must conquer in every strife. The Lord had brought her out of the depths, and set her upon a rock. A few brief words, and the vision of a human countenance, had made a complete revolution in her life; out of hell itself it had brought her up, and set her before the gate of heaven; where, with all the white-robed throng, she is singing, “Unto Him who hath loved me, and washed me from my sins in His own blood, and hath made me a king and priestunto God and His Father, unto Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
II. And now let us turn our thoughts to the nature of the action, and analyse the opposing judgments which were passed on it by the disciples and the Lord. Worldly wisdom would probably find a double objection to this transaction.
1. It was shameful that a woman, who was a sinner, should approach a prophet; and
2. "The gift was lavish and wasteful, and might have been put to a better use.
It is impossible not to compare with this another but a very kindred transaction, which is recorded by Saint John. (Read John xii. 148.) From these two passages we may fairly gather what may be urged by worldly wisdom against such a ministry of love. Instead of answering these objections in detail, it appears to me more helpful to set forth some of the principles which seem to be involved in the answers of the Lord. And Jesus seems to me to say by His answers,
1. That love—such love-must be left to its native affinities. Its elections are absolute, its decisions are supreme.
No doubt the woman who was a sinner and the rich Pharisee's house were in strange association. Sympathy between them there could be none. But if a sinner should be drawn by the spells of a heavenly love even to a rich Pharisee's presence, the Lord says that that presence would be less
contaminated by the sinner, than it would be blessed and honoured by the love. That a sinner should venture within the sphere of a prophet's sanctity was still more strange to Simon. All unknown to him the doctrine unfolded in these pregnant words. (Read Luke xv. 1-10.) Unknown to him that his guest had stooped from a glorious heavenly throne, and put off its crown, that sinners who had known Him only as the God of righteousness, and had trembled, might rejoice in Him as the God of mercy, and repay the sacrifice by love. Simon knew not that heavenly love, though born in that corrupted bosom, was a spirit more strong and celestial than the spirit of a Pharisee's righteousness. He knew as little that for love, yea, the love of the prodigal children, the Saviour's spirit had yearned even on His throne of glory. The love of a Father for prodigal children is a hard thought to a Pharisee's understanding, and a strange sensation to a Pharisee's heart. But the Lord knew that His sacrifice and suffering had not been fruitless, when love's strong instincts had guided a woman who was a sinner to weep out the stains of her pollution at His footstool, and draw new life by that potent talisman out of His sympathetic heart. Simon saw there but the abandoned woman, with all the stains of her guilt upon her, whose very love would contaminate the purity of his home, and the reputation of his guest; the Lord Jesus saw the saint, whom His grace had bound with surer than adamantine bands to His heart for ever—saved by His word from eternal perdition, to shine as a star in the kingdom of His Father, and shed, not tears, but beams of love on His radiant home, radiant with joy like hers, through eternity.
2. The Lord said that there are gifts which a love like hers alone can justify.
“She loved much,” He pleaded, in answer to the glances which condemned the occasion as a scandal, and the gift as a waste. There are gifts which we measure, and are bound to measure, by the need of the recipient. Them let the strictest prudence gauge and limit, lest a puny nature become surfeited with a bounty, which in such case may be wanton, and even a sin
There are gifts which are simply the utterance of the heart of the giver, outlets of surcharged feeling, expressions of thoughts too deep for words, for tears. Let the cold and cautious stand aside while such are passing, nor stay the flight of these angels ion the wing. The heart's first duty is to find tself expression. She loved much; she spent her living in telling how much she loved. Simon, there is a malignant devil in that cautious calculation. That spirit would weigh the sunlight, and moan that so much should be lost on the waste places of.