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preaching of Christ, and miraculously fed by His bounty, and whom, having thus imprinted on their minds the sense of their own duty and His own divinity, He" sent away" to their respective habitations. With what feelings, think you, would you, under such circumstances, have left the presence of the Son of God? Would the marvellous things which you had heard and seen, the proofs of power, the lessons of holiness, have been dismissed from your minds as a mere aweful spectacle to please the eye, a most sweet sound of the harp or the organ which, though pleasant for a time, left no instruction behind it? Would Would you have allowed your former sinful habits immediately to renew their sway, and have deferred all serious thoughts, all holy words, all actions of faith or prayer, till the time of solemn worship should again come round, and you should again meet Christ in the wilderness? Or would not your consciences have rather told you, that now the time was come to show forth the progress which you had made in His lessons; that as you hoped for His future preaching, it became you to prove that you had profited by that help which you had already received, and that it would have been better never to have consulted the Heavenly Physician, than, having affected outwardly to do so, to act contrary to all the directions which He gave.
My Christian friends, you have this day attended the worship of Christ, and have heard His Gospel read, and, so far as His ministers have been able,
without offending Him. So shall the dawn of each returning day bring increase of knowledge; so, when another Sabbath shall call you to these holy walls, you shall return in the increased favour of God and the clearer light of His countenance; and so, at length, when the last great Sabbath of nature is arrived, and He, who once fed the poor of the flock in the wilderness, shall return in His Father's glory to rule over Heaven and earth, He shall "send you away" no more, but cause you, world without end, to dwell in His Tabernacle, and before His face, that where He is, you may be also!
CHRIST PREACHING TO SINNERS.
[Preached at Dacca, July 4, 1824.]
ST. LUKE Xv. 10.
I say unto you, that there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
It was an accusation very frequently brought against our Saviour by the ruling party of the Jewish nation, that He showed in His preaching and daily habits an undue indulgence to sinners; that many of His disciples were taken from among men of this description; and that in meals and in conversation, He did not disdain the society of those whom the more rigid Pharisees condemned as impure and unholy. It does not, indeed, appear, however they might by loose and injurious revilings, attempt to stigmatize His character, that they ever brought against Him any definite charge of having partaken with sinners in their evil ways. The practice to which they objected was the simple intercourse, the act of conversing and breaking bread with sinners; and, in order to understand
the force and nature of their objection, it is necessary to take into account some of the peculiar prejudices of the Jews as to the touch or society of particular persons, as also who those persons were against whom these prejudices were directed.
In this country, I need scarcely mention, that it is a custom with those who pretend to any degree of holiness, to shrink from the touch of persons of a different religion, or of a character less devoted to the practice of contemplation and piety. Among the Mahommedan fakirs there are few who will willingly suffer their hands or their garments to be approached by a Christian, while the institution of castes is, with the Hindoos, carried to the height of absurdity, superstition, and inhumanity. Even the Jews, oppressed and degraded as they are in outward circumstances, show still, in all parts of the east, a considerable anxiety to withdraw from such contact or salutation.
The generality of this prejudice forbids our ascribing its origin to a source so circumscribed as the ceremonial law of Moses; nor, indeed, with all the precision of that law in declaring certain objects unclean, and prescribing a certain form of purification as necessary to every one who came in contact with them, is there any hint in the Pentateuch of such rules being applicable to opinions or moral habits, nor any justification of that intolerant fancy which led Simon the pharisee to doubt our Lord's prophetic character because He suffered a penitent sinner to embrace His feet and moisten His garment
with her tears'. The name of unclean is applied in Leviticus exclusively to objects in themselves disgusting, or which, for the sake of health, it was convenient to esteem so; the practice of the ancient Israelites, as displayed in the books of Kings and Chronicles, was very far from erring on the side of too great aversion from their idolatrous neighbours; and the custom of which I speak may be suspected to be of a later and far less holy origin; to have returned with the Jews from their captivity, and to have been strengthened during the Macedonian persecution; to have been borrowed from the semi-Indian creed of their Persian and Chaldean sovereigns, or to have been a natural consequence of that gloomy period of their history when, under the rod of Antiochus, and ill-treated by all mankind, the names of enemy and foreigner became to them, in the strictest sense of the word, synonymous. It is evident, however, that with persons who boasted their abhorrence of sin, it was by no means unnatural to apply to moral those rules which had been given for cases of physical pollution; to cry out to their fellow-creatures, "come not near, I am holier than thou," and to apprehend that the approach of a wicked, like that of a leprous person, made them unfit, for a time, to enter into a place of worship, or to offer up, even in private, acceptable devotions to the God of purity. Nor need we wonder that the Pharisees, in a tradi
1 St. Luke vii. 38.