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may receive all grace and every necessary for our everlasting life. Lord, to whom shall we go, but to thee? thou hast the words of eternal life. (John vi. 69.) O come, dear Jesus, who wast born for us into this world, who sheddest thy blood for us, dying on a cross, who hast given us thyself here, under humble veils, that we might be brought to the clear sight, and possession of thee in eternal glory; take from us whatever is displeasing to thee; give us a hunger and thirst after thee; inflame our hearts with a love of thee, that we may be ready to renounce for ever all that can separate us from thee; that henceforward we may pant after thee, that we may be willing to make any sacrifice which may bring us nearer to thee and thy love; and that consecrating ourselves to thy service, we may receive forgiveness of our sins at thy feet, be nourished with this our daily supersubstantial bread, and at length pass from a life of grace to a life of glory; from a life in which we adore thee under humble mysterious veils, to a life in which we shall see and enjoy thee without shadow or change for all eternity
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST.
ON THE MERCY OF JESUS TOWARDS SINNERS.
There shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner
doing penance, more than upon ninety-nine just, who need not penance. (Luke xv. 7.)
Our blessed Redeemer, who came down from heaven, and clothed himself with our nature, that he might bring back those who had gone astray, and save those who were perishing, permitted even sinners to approach his person and to converse with him, and sometimes he condescended even to sit at their tables, and eat with them. Filled with an idea of their superior virtue, and imaginary merit, the Pharisees and doctors of the law affected to be scandalized at this charity of Jesus Christ, and vented their rancour, sometimes in secret whispers, sometimes in open reproach. In us, my brethren, weak as we are, and prone to sin, it would generally be a guilty presumption to join the societies of the wicked, even from the motive of reclaiming them from sin; but in Our Saviour, in whom was all goodness and sanctity, it was the effect of his great love for sinners, and his zeal for the glory of his father. In him his enemies could discern nothing that was not decorated with all the purity and sweetness of charity, both towards God and men : sin in him there was none. Yet did the Scribes and Pharisees murmur against him, sayingThis man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. To confound their pride, refute their aspersions, and demonstrate to them the ineffable charity with which he was actuated, Jesus speaks to them the parable you have just heard, leaving to them to draw from it an easy and natural inference.
If to recover an animal of little value, men submit to such fatigue; if they take so much pains to recover a sum of money, which, in its greatest abundance, is incompetent to bestow real happiness, and must at last be left behind, can you wonder, and what is more extraordinary, can you pretend to be scandalized, when you behold me seeking to draw sinners from their evil ways ?
From the compassion which I shew towards those who have strayed from the pastures of grace and virtue, can you take occasion to censure my conduct, and rouse the public reproach and resentment against me? Know ye not that I came not to call, &c. Cease then to entertain sentiments of malevolence against me, to murmur against my conduct, to traduce my character, and by unfounded surmises, and false insinuations, to blacken my reputation. I say to you that there shall be, &c. By this parable he instructs us that he considers sinners as the sheep which he has lost ; that he omits nothing to bring them back to virtue and happiness; that he rejoices in their return, and invites the whole host of heaven, the sacred train of ministering spirits to join with him.
Let us this day contemplate the charity of Jesus towards sinners, by considering how much he does in order to bring them to himself; and on some future occasion we will examine what ought to be the behaviour of sinners in return for so much tenderness and love.
It is with the strictest justice that the Saviour of mankind has styled himself the good shepherd. He knows his sheep; he guards and protects them ; he loves them, and loves them even unto death. But when any of us, who are the sheep of his pasture, have strayed from the fold, to wander in the by-paths of iniquity ; when, disregarding his love, we have yielded to the bent of sinful passion, then it is that his loving tenderness, contrasted with our ingrati
tude, appears in the most admirable light. Then it is that he seems, as it were, to forget those who have closely adhered to him. He leaves the ninety-nine in the desert, and goes in pursuit of the unhappy wanderer, and having found the lost sheep, invites, encourages, and presses it to return to the fold—to his love and friendship.
My brethren, admire the prompt solicitude with which Jesus hastens to rescue sinners from destruction. No sooner does the unhappy offender withdraw himself to a distance from his God, by mortal sin, than his loving Lord speaks to his soul by the voice of conscience, which upbraids him with his ingratitude, unfolds to view the wretchedness of sin, the boundless calamities which are its consequence, and inspires a dread of God's offended majesty. To these interior reproaches he joins a strong light, which exposes the enormity of the sinner's guilt, and urges him to repentance. No sooner had our first parents disobeyed the divine commands, than he called to Adam, and said to him, where art thou ? (Gen. iii. 9.) and the eyes of them both were opened, and they beheld their guilt and misery. But, my brethren, you need no proof in confirmation of this his mercy. You, who have had the misfortune to lose the
grace of God by sin, know the truth of what I assert. When you violated his command by injustice,