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may be made out. Two classes of persons have done this injustice. 1. Religious; and 2. irreligious people. I have only reference to the one. Religious people have cut the text loose, and then they have been forced to get at explanations. One has saidThe just persons represent those who have already repented, and therefore they do not need repentance, as the term is here used. This is true enough, perfectly true; but it is not the meaning of the text. Another has said—Just, means justified, or made righteous, in consequence of embracing Christ, and being accepted by God in him. Such need no repentance as is here represented. This is also true, but this is not the meaning of the text. This doctrine of justification was not fully preached till after the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ. It was a consequence of his sacrifice perfected. Some more plausibly have said, that the just is a term used to represent the chosen people of God the Jews, and sinner the Gentiles, so that it merely alludes to the calling of the Gentiles. All these explanations are forced and unnatural. The doctrines of these explanations are all true; but their application to the parable is false.

Now, my brethren, let us try if we can look at the subject, with these difficulties out of the way. Let us examine the character of the transaction" Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear hmi.” Here we have, in the first place, publicans. Who were they? They were persons especially despised for the employment which they held. Sinners. Who were they? In the phraseology of the times, low and profligate persons were meant; thus, a woman who was a sinner, means one who is aban

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doned to profligate courses.

Here then we have two classes who came to hear Christ. on—"And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” Here we have Pharisees and Scribes; who were they? Here then are all the parties. Now let us look at the objection which these Scribes and Pharisees made.

Recollect, that the leading principle of the Scribes and Pharisees was, that they claimed it as their characteristic, never to have forsaken the path of God's commandments; and they were indignant at Christ, who preached to those who made no such high pretensions. Now what was our Saviour's object ? Any one with half an eye can see, that his purpose was to argue with them on their own principles, to use what is called the argumentum ad hominem, to defeat them with their own weapons, and thus to show, that on their own principles he was right in appealing to publicans and sinners. For this purpose he uses three parables; the first begins a long way off from the subject, so that they should not exactly see the bearing at once. The second comes nearer, but yet not quite near enough to let them ascertain that his allusion bore hard on them. Having gone thus far, the third gives them a most tremendous application to themselves.

The first parable, I said, was a long way off“And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

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And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." The second comes a little nearer-"Either what woman, having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.” The third is close upon them, but is too long to quote. It is the parable of the prodigal son, in which they could easily read themselves in the character of the elder brother. Here it is, as appended to one of these parables, that the text comes in—“I say unto you, That likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” And then the plain, simple meaning is obvious, as if he had said, any one of you, if you lost one sheep out of one hundred, would go and search after it, and you would be glad if you found it, and would actually rejoice more than of your ninety-nine, which staid behind. Now you consider yourselves in the fold; you are the ninety-nine who go not astray; these publicans and sinners are those who have gone astray, and I go after them, just as you would after a lost sheep.

What I wish you to observe here, my friends, is, that the just persons spoken of are the Scribes and Pharisees, and that the argument is used for them. Were they persons who needed no repentance? Truly, in their own estimation, and it was on this ground thatour Saviour justified his attention to publicans and sinners. But what sort of just persons who needed

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no repentance the Scribes and Pharisees were, you may judge by two or three specimens.

1. Take something John the Baptist said—“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore, fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our Father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the tree, therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."

2. Take something our Lord said—“But wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye

shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a

' pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him two-fold more the child of bell than yourselves. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith : these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Wo unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites ! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

Do you think that these are persons who need no repentance ? and yet they are persons who are spoken of.

The argument of our Saviour then is this. You complain of me, that I preach to publicans and sinners. You hold them in contempt and abhorrence. You call yourselves the people of the Lord. You pride yourselves on your adherence to God's law. Well, let me tell you, that on your own principles I ought to look after these poor lost ones whom you despise. And I moreover give you to understand, that there is more joy among the angels of God when one of these repent, than there is over the whole lot of you who look upon yourselves as good enough already. Can any one ask a more obvious interpretation ? And nothing is necessary to make it out but to look at the chapter.

Now, my brethren, there are some exceedingly valuable practical remarks to be drawn from the circumstances of the text. I might profitably enlarge on the inquiry, What kind of repentance gives joy to the angels of heaven? I might take up the deeply interesting inquiry, How is it that the angels of God are interested in this business? I have no time for this. I will shortly do it, God

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VOL. I.

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