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definite and particular sin, let us record on our knees before Him our solemn resolution to avoid with all watchfulness, all the preambles and invitations by which we have been betrayed to it. Let us lay the rod upon ourselves, praying Him to spare us. Let us ask of Him not forgiveness alone, but bitterness and brokenness of heart, perpetual compunction, shame at our ingratitude, trembling and awe at our rashness in sinning against Him, the brightness of whose Presence would smite our whole being into dust and ashes. Blessed truth, that with Him is forgiveness seven times a day! for seven times a day do we commit greater sins than lost the paradise of God. “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not ; yea, the stars are not pure in His sight. How much less man, that is a worm ? and the son of man, which is a worm ?''*
* Job. xxv. 4-6.
THE GENTLENESS OF CHRIST.
ISAIAH xliii. 3. "A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He
In this prophecy Isaiah foretells the gentleness of Christ. St. Matthew quotes it when he is recording the longsuffering of our Lord with the Pharisees. He had healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath day: the Pharisees lay in wait to entangle Him by questions; and when He had baffled them, they “ went out, and held a council against Him, that they might destroy Him. But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Hiinself from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all; and charged them that they should not make Him known.” This He enjoined, it seems, lest the Pharisees should be goaded and provoked, by the unwelcome proofs of His divine power, into precipitate acts against Him. For their sakes He would have concealed Himself; lest, by contending with Him, they should destroy themselves. His whole ministry was full of the like gentle and tender forbearance,
“ That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Behold My Servant, whom I have chosen; My Beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He shall show judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets." His ministry was not a public disputation, with clamor and popular applause, with factions in the city, and a following of people. It was silent and penetrating, “as the light that goeth forth ; spreading every where with resistless power, and yet from a source often withdrawn from sight. “A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench;+ which seems to say, so light and soft shall be His touch, that the reed which is nearly asunder shall not be broken down, and the flax which has only not left off to smoke shall not be put out. A most beautiful parable of tenderness, of which Moses, the meekest of men, was a type, when he said in the Spirit: “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass;"I and of which the Psalınist prophesied when he said, " He shall come down like the rain upon the mown grass : as showers that water the earth. In His days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.”'s The same was foretold by Isaiah : "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment. And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."|| It was in His gentleness, His
| Deut. xxxii. 2.
* Hosea ri. 5.
+ St. Matt. xii. 14-20.
tender compassion, His longsuffering and patient endurance of sinners, that these prophecies were fulfilled.
Let us first take such examples as are recorded in holy Scripture; and then draw, froin this view of our blessed Lord's character, the instruction which is implied in His perfect gentleness to sinners.
We see it, then, in all His dealing with His disciples. Wheresoever there were the first faint stirrings of faith or love, He cherished and sheltered them with tender care. In His teaching He led them on little by little, line upon line, drawing them first to familiar converse with Himself; not upbraiding their slowness; not severely rebuking their faults. When Jaines and John would have brought fire from heaven, He said only, “ Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.”* To Philip, when he blindly asked to see the Father, “ Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip ?”+ And when He detected their ambitious contests which should be the greatest,“ being in the house He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way ? "I Even at the last supper He said, “ I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now: and to St. Thomas, after his vehement unbelief, “ Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.” And to St. Peter, in chastisement for his three open denials, He said thrice, as in a doubting, melancholy tenderness, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?”:||
And so in like manner to all the people. It was to the whole multitude He said: “Come unto Me, all ye that
† St. Mark ix, 33, 34.
* St. Luke ix. 55.
+ St. John xiv. 9.
labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."* He permitted so near an access to all men, that it was turned to His reproach. He was “a friend of publicans and sinners." “ This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them." Again, we read : “ One of the Pharisees desired Him that He would eat with him. And He went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden Him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, 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. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.
There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And He said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. 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
St. Matt. xi. 28-30.