The Physician Pardons His Palsied Patient
“And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.”— Matthew ix. 2— 7.
I REMARKED in the reading that the Gospel of Matthew is especially the Gospel of the Kingdom, and of the King. All through Matthew’s writing, the title of King constantly occurs in connection with Christ, and his kingliness is prominent from the opening chapter to the close. Here we see the King exercising his royal prerogatives. In this passage we have several instances of Christ acting as he could not have acted if he had not possessed a royal and divine power.
I. I will go at once to my text, and note, first, that JESUS DEALT WITH THE PALSIED MAN IN A TRULY ROYAL AND DIVINE WAY.
The bearers of the man sick of the palsy had broken through the tiling, whatever that may have been, to get him near the Saviour. They had dropped him down over the heads of the eager throng, and there he lay upon his pallet before Christ, unable to stir hand or foot, but looking up with that gaze of eager expectancy which Christ so well understood.
You will notice that our Lord did not wait for a word to be spoken, he simply looked, and he saw their faith. Matthew writes, “Jesus seeing their faith.” Who can see faith? It is a thing whose effects can be seen, its signs and tokens are discoverable; and they were eminently so in this case, for breaking up the roof, and putting the man down before Christ in so strange a way, were evidences of their belief that Jesus would cure him. Still, Christ’s eyes not only saw the proofs of their faith, but the faith itself. There stood the four men, speaking with their eyes, and saying, “Master, see what we have done! We are persuaded that we have done the right thing, and that thou wilt heal him.” There was the man, lying on his bed, looking up, and wondering what the Lord would do, but evidently cheered by the belief that he was now in a position of hope where, in all probability, he would become a man favoured beyond everyone else. Christ not merely saw the looks of this man and his bearers; but he saw their faith.
Ah, friends, we cannot see one another’s faith! We may see the fruit of it. Sometimes we think that we can discern the lack of it; but to see the faith itself, this needs divine sight, this needs the glance of the eye of the Son of man. Jesus saw their faith; and now, to-night, that same eye is looking upon all in this audience, and he sees your faith. Have you any that he can see? “Oh, yes!” some of you can reply, “we have a humble, trembling faith; not such as it ought to be, but such as we are very thankful to possess.” Some of you, it may be, are conscious of your sin to-night; and all the faith you have is just a faint hope, a feeble belief that, if he will but speak to you, you shall be forgiven. You believe that he is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by him; but you have in the background a fear that you cannot come, or that you may not come in a right way. Still, if it is ever so little faith in him that you have, my Master sees it; and, as in our early days we used to look for a single spark in the tinder that we might get a light on the cold mornings, so does the Lord look for the tiniest gleam of faith in any human heart, that out of it may come a flame of spiritual life. “Jesus seeing their faith.” Now then, my dear hearer, Christ’s eye is looking at you to-night. Whatever faith you have, exert it now; believe in Jesus. He is the Son of God; believe in him as able to save you, for he is able, and he is willing as well as able; and now trust your soul to him, sink or swim. Determine that, if you must die, you will die at the foot of Christ’s cross; but you will go nowhere else for salvation. “Jesus seeing their faith.” His royal and divine sight could perceive that which was hidden from all mere mortal men.
But then, when Jesus saw their faith, observe next that he dealt first with the chief evil which afflicted this man. He did not begin by curing him of the palsy. That was bad enough; but sin is worse than the palsy, sin in the heart is worse than paralysis of every single muscle. Sin is death, but something worse than death; therefore, Christ, at the very beginning of this miracle, to show his lordship, his royal, his divine power, said to the man, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” This was laying the axe at the root of the man’s evil nature. This was hunting the lion, the biggest beast of all the foul creatures that lurked in the densest forest of the man’s being. Christ’s words drove the unclean animal from his lair, and by his almighty power rent him as though he had been a kid.
Now, at this time, you may have many troubles; and perhaps you are eager to spread them before the Lord. That sick child, your dear husband, who is at home ill, that business which is flagging and likely to fail, that disease of yours which is weakening you, and which makes you scarcely fit to be in the Lord’s house to-night. Now, waive all those things, for heavy as they are, they are inconsiderable compared with sin. There is no venom as poisonous as that of sin; this is the wormwood and the gall; this is the deadly fang of the serpent whose sting infects and inflames our whole being. If this evil be removed, then every ill has gone; therefore Christ begins with this, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” Breathe a prayer to him now for the forgiveness of your sin: “Jesus, Master, forgive me! With a word thou canst pardon all my sin; thou hast but to pronounce the absolution, and all my iniquities will be put away at once and for ever. O my Lord, wilt thou not put them away to-night?”
Notice, also, that Jesus did absolutely forgive that man: “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” He did not say, “They shall be forgiven,” but, “They are forgiven; I absolve thee from them all. Whatever they may have been, thy youthful sins, thy manhood sins, thy sins before the palsy laid hold upon thee, thy sins of murmuring since thou hast been upon that bed, put them all together into one great mass, and though they be multitudinous as the stars of heaven, or as the sands on the seashore, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” And the man felt that it was so, he believed that it was so, a load was taken from his heart, his whole spirit was lifted up by that gracious word, “Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” I pray my Master to deal thus with some who are sitting in these pews very heavy at heart. May he speak right into the depths of your spirit, “Son, daughter, thy sins be forgiven thee! They are blotted out, they are all gone.” Oh, what a dreadful time that is to a man when first he sees his sin! It is the darkest moment of his life; but it is a blessed moment when he sees that Christ has put away his sin, and has said to him, “You shall not die in your iniquities; for they are all forgiven.” Everything grows light and bright round about him; he himself is like one who comes up out of a well, or out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, yea, out of the very belly of hell. He seems to leap all at once up to the throne of heaven as he sings, “My sins are all forgiven. I am a miracle of grace.” Wonder not if the man can scarcely contain himself; marvel not if he runs, and leaps, and dances for very joy.
This is how Christ behaves towards poor, palsied, sin-bound men and women. He sees their faith, and then puts their sin away where it shall be seen no more for ever, for he is a King, he is God, and he is able to forgive and blot out all iniquity. I have heard of one who, having been under a great sense of sin, and being relieved of it, could for a long time only cry out, “He is a great Forgiver.” When there were other things to be attended to, he could not see to them, nor speak of any other kind of business but this, “He is a great Forgiver.” I do not feel as if, to-night, I wanted to say anything else to you but this, “He is a great Forgiver. I have found him so; many here have found him so; and all who will trust his great atoning sacrifice shall also know that he is a great Forgiver.”
II. The second division of my subject diverges a little from the first; but it follows the text, and so it is no real divergence. By his royal and divine power, CHRIST READ AND JUDGED MEN’S THOUGHTS.
See those Scribes, those students of the letter of the Word, who know how many letters there are in every Book of the Old Testament, and have counted them so accurately that they can tell which is the middle letter. Wonderfully wise men those! Do you see them? They are very vexed and angry; and they think hard thoughts of Christ. They did not dare to speak out what they thought; the people would not have listened to them just then if they had spoken, so they held their tongues, but they did not hold their hearts, and there was a Thought-reader there, — not one who professed the art, but One who possessed it, — and he heard where the quickest ear would have failed to detect the faintest sound. Jesus heard the Scribes mentally say, “This.” If you look at your Bibles, you will find that the word “man” is printed in italics, and that the Scribes said within themselves, “This”, they meant, “fellow”, — they meant any black name that you like to put in, “This blasphemer.” They would not say what they thought him; they did not like to call him anything but just “This. . . This offscouring.”
Thus, Christ read their contempt of himself. They had not uttered it; but he had heard it. It is an awful thing to have a silent contempt of Christ. You may pride yourself on saying, “I have never spoken anything against religion; I have never used a profane expression.” No; but if you do not call Jesus your Lord, if you do not own him as your Saviour, he knows what the contemptuous omission means. What you do not say, though you only say “This—,” and leave a blank space; he reads it all. If there are any here, who have such thoughts of my Lord and Master, I do not wish to know them, and I hope that they will never let any other creature know them; but let them remember that Jesus knows all about them, for he is a King who reads the secrets of all hearts, and in due time he will lay them bare.
But, next, Jesus marked their charge of blasphemy. They said in their heart that he blasphemed, for he had taken to himself the prerogative of God. According to Mark and Luke’s accounts, they asked, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” Now, mark you, we who worship Christ as God can never have any fellowship with those who deny his Godhead, nor can they have any fellowship with us; for if he be indeed the Son of God, then they blaspheme him who deny it; and if he be only a man, then we are clearly idolaters and man-worshippers, and he did blaspheme. We are obliged to confess that, and we do confess it; if he was not the Son of God, if he had not power to forgive sins, then they rightly judged that he was a blasphemer. Ah, my hearer, when thou art afraid that Jesus cannot forgive thy sins, thou art trembling on the very verge of blasphemy! There is such a crime as constructive treason; and there is such a sin as constructive blasphemy. To deny Christ’s power to save, is to make him but a man; and if thou puttest him down as only man, thou blasphemest. Even though thou mayest not intend to utter blasphemy, there is the shadow of its dark presence even in that unbelief of thine.
Notice, also, how Jesus judged their thoughts. He said to them, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” It was their hearts rather than their thoughts that were evil. Intellectual error generally springs from an unrenewed heart. And what evil had these men thought? They had thought him a blasphemer; they had also thought contemptuously of him; but the greatest evil of all was that they had limited his power; they did not believe that he could forgive. They thought it blasphemy on his part to profess to have the power to forgive the sins of men.
Now, my dear hearer, I know that you would shrink from openly blaspheming Christ, that is, if you are the person I think you are. Then, however great thy sin at present is, do not make it more by insinuating that he cannot forgive you, for of all sins this must be the most cruel, to think that he is unable to forgive. This stabs at Christ’s Saviourship, which is his very heart. If thou sayest, “I am very guilty,” say it again, for thou sayest the truth; but if thou sayest, “I am so guilty that he cannot forgive me,” I pray thee to withdraw that wicked word, lest thou shouldst limit the Holy One of Israel, and he should have to say to thee, “Wherefore thinkest thou evil in thy heart?” It is thinking evil of Christ to imagine that he cannot forgive. I mean this word for the very worst man in the world. If thou art now the blackest soul out of hell, if thou art at this moment the most guilty and the most condemned of all the myriad offenders of our ruined race, yet I charge thee not to add to thy past sin this further evil of doubting Christ’s power to save even thee; but come as thou art, and cast thyself at his feet, and say, “Let all thy power to save be shown in me; I the chief of sinners am, and here thou hast an opportunity of showing the greatness of thy power to pardon.”
And observe, once more, that, in dealing with these Scribes, our Lord spoke right royally and divinely to them, for he revealed the unreasonableness of their thoughts. He said to them, “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” I ask you who are here to-night if you know any reason why Christ cannot forgive sin? Will anyone here, who doubts his power to pardon, find a reason for that doubt? If thou believest (and I will assume that thou dost believe) that he is the Son of God, can he not forgive sin? If thou believest that he did heal the lepers, and the paralyzed, and even raised the dead, can he not forgive sin? Further, if thou believest that he died for sin, that on the cross he offered no less a victim than himself, wherefore dost thou think that he cannot forgive? If thou believest that he rose again from the dead, — and I know that thou believest this, — if indeed he rose again from the dead for the justification of the ungodly, how is it that he cannot forgive? And if he has gone into glory, and thou knowest that he is at his Father’s right hand, and there is making intercession for the transgressors, how canst thou say that he cannot forgive thee? “Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts” in limiting my Master’s power? He can forgive every one here present; he can forgive every soul in whom he sees faith in himself, whoever he may be, and however dire his guilt.
III. Now we come back to the palsied man and our Master again, and notice, in the third place, that right royally JESUS OPENLY DECLARED HIS COMMISSION. He seems to me to read the letters patent which his Father gave him when he sent him on his errand of love and mercy: “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.”
First, Jesus is the Son of man. He does not conceal that fact. One would have thought that he would have said, “I am the Son of God”; but here he chooses still to hold his Godhead in abeyance, so he says, “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins. I, the Son of Mary, I, the carpenter’s Son, I who dwelt at Nazareth thirty years, I who have gone up and down among you, worn with sufferings, pained by your hostility, wearied by labour for you, I, the Son of man, have power to forgive sins.” Think of that. He puts himself on his very lowest standing, and declares that, as the Son of man, there is bestowed upon him, by reason of his Godhead, the power to forgive sins.
And having thus declared his title, he goes on to say that he forgives sins as the Son of man on earth. He was on earth, and he had power on earth ; that is, in his earthly life, in his humiliation, when he had made himself for a while to be less than the Father, so that he could say, “ My Father is greater than I,” — higher in office just then,— when he had humbled himself, and taken upon himself the form of a servant, he could say, “ The Son of man hath power on earth, at his lowest, divested of glory, here as a Man among men, the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” Oh, how I love this word, for if he had power on earth, what power he has in heaven; and if he had power as the Son of man, what power he has as God and Man in one person! Oh, how fully you may trust him! Even the Christ whom they could see, the Son of man,— for you know that there was a Christ whom they could not see, that Son of God whom carnal eyes could not behold, who must reveal himself spiritually or be unperceived by mortal sense,— even he whom they could see, the Christ whom you poor weeping ones can see, though you cannot see the half of Christ, nay, you cannot see the hundredth part of Christ,— the Christ whom you poor doubters can see, the Christ whom you who are all but blind can only see out of the corners of those eyes of yours when you see men as trees walking,— even that Christ, the Son of man, in his weakness on earth, was able to forgive sins. I do not seem as if I ought to try to preach about this glorious truth; but I feel that I ought to state it, and leave it as a solemn fact for you to reject at your peril if you dare; or to receive with gladdest joy; for, believe me, your only hope lies here. O guilty sons of Adam, here is the way of escape for you! Your father Adam has ruined you; but the Son of man has come to seek and to save you, and he declares that he has power on earth to forgive sins.
Now, notice, in this blessed unrolling of his commission as the Son of man, how Jesus cheers the sad. He said to the poor palsied man, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” How this should comfort you who are sad on account of sin! It is the Son of man who can forgive you. You tremble at the greatness of God, you are afraid of his majesty; but this Son of man, your Brother, whose hands were pierced with the nails, and whose feet still wear the nail-prints, whose side has the gash that the spear of the soldier made, he it is who can forgive sins. How tenderly he comes to you! How gently does he deal with you! Here is a hand fit for a surgeon, of whom it is said that he must have an eagle’s eye, and a lion’s heart, but a lady’s hand. Here is a hand of flesh, a dainty, tender hand of love, that brings to you pardon. You have not to encounter God absolutely; but the one Mediator comes in between God and men. He who is bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh, says to you, “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” And this makes our hearts cheer up when they are sorrowing on account of sin.
Beside that, Jesus assures the forgiven that he has forgiven them. How I love to think of that blessed fact, that Christ does not forgive us, and keep his forgiveness in the dark, but he says, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee,” giving the assurance of forgiveness to the sinner whom he forgives! The realization of pardon is a delightful feeling. It is not worth while to sin, whatever comes of it; I cannot say, with Augustine, “Beata culpa! Blessed fault!” but oh, if there is a joy outside of heaven that is higher than all others, it is the joy of a sinful soul when divine forgiveness is granted, making the forgiven one whiter than the driven snow, and fresher than the morning dew. I am a forgiven man, wonder of wonders! I, who have broken all God’s laws, and brought upon me Jehovah’s wrath, am pardoned for all my transgressions. God’s Son has said it, and his word is sure and steadfast, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.”
I think that men would readily give up all the pleasures of this world, and count them as nothing, if they could but know the bliss of forgiven sin. Oh, if any man, who says that he loves a merry laugh, did but once know what it is to be reconciled to God, he would count that he never before enjoyed real merriment, or understood true mirth. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as I have said, makes us drink of the sweetness of forgiveness. It is not merely that he burns the books that recorded our indebtedness; but he tells us that he has done so. He says, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.”
Thus it was that Christ publicly unrolled his divine commission, declaring that ho had power on earth to forgive sins. He came here on purpose to forgive human guilt; not to condemn, nay, not even to condemn her who was caught in the act of adultery. “Neither do I condemn thee,” said he; “Go, and sin no more.” Jesus came not to condemn the thief who was dying on the cross, and confessing that he deserved so to die; nay, but he said to him, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” It is Christ’s business to pardon; it is his bliss to pardon; it is his glory to pardon. He came here on purpose that he might pardon the guilty. Oh, that all sinful ones would go to him for forgiveness!
IV. After having thus declared his commission, let us note, in the fourth place, that JESUS EXHIBITED HIS CREDENTIALS.
Since the Scribes disputed his power to pardon, he gave them a practical proof that he could forgive, and I want your special attention to this point. He said to them, in effect, “To forgive sin is a divine act. Now, whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?” I put it to you, dear friends, which is the easier of the two? Mark that Jesus does not ask, “Which is the easier, to forgive sin, or to heal the palsy?” No; he said, “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?”
Well, now, the first is much the easier, because there are a great many who can say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” and you cannot see whether the sins are forgiven or not. Look at the number of those who call themselves priests, who say, after they have heard the penitent’s confession, “I absolve thee.” It is easy enough to say that; but who is to know whether that person, who has professed penitence, is absolved or not? There is no change apparent to the observer; the poor sinner who is told that he is absolved may credulously derive some delusive comfort from his fellow-sinner’s words; but those who look on cannot see any difference in the man or woman coming back from the confessional from what they were when they went there. It is very easy to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee”; any fool can say it, any knave can say it; but then, if you say, “Arise, and walk,” suppose they do not rise and walk, what then? Anybody can stand there, and say to the man sick of the palsy, “Arise, and walk,” and the man may make an effort to rise, but fall back as helpless as ever; so that, although both miracles are, in themselves, equally impossible to man, and equally require divine power, yet the saying of the one is easy enough, but the saying of the other is more difficult. Many an impostor would shrink from saying, “Arise, and walk,” for he would be mightily afraid that it would be found one thing to say it, and quite another thing for the patient really to rise and walk. Thus Christ said to the Scribes, “I will prove to you that I am divine, and therefore that I have the power to forgive sins, for I will now perform a miracle which you shall see, and which you shall be quite unable to dispute. It shall be wrought before you all, and then you shall know that, as I could do what was evidently the harder thing, that is, say, ‘Arise, and walk,’ I had the right to say what has become the easier thing, ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee.’”
“Then saith he to the sick of the palsy,” while he lay there, “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” Thus Jesus marked out the miracle in detail. It was necessary to pile up the argument to make it complete and overwhelming. First, “Arise, sit up, stand up.” The man could not do that if the palsy was still upon him; but at once, “He arose.” “Now roll up thy mattress.” He stoops down, and you can see him rolling it up; he has it now under his arm, or on his shoulder. “Now,” is Christ’s next command, “Go unto thine house,” and he walks straight away off to his home. Of course, in modern times, we make exhibitions of converts; and we should have taken this man up and down the streets, to show him off as a trophy; but the Saviour does much better than that. For him to go home to his house, was a clearer proof of being cured than for him to remain with Christ, for it might be supposed that, while he was with the Saviour, some strange influence emanating from the great Physician kept him in a state of excitement and up to the mark. So Christ says, “Go home to thine house, to every-day life, just as anybody else might do, go along with you, bed and all;” and off he goes. Every point of detail was necessary to make it clear that this was a real, radical, complete cure, and that the Christ who could work such a miracle was able also to forgive sin.
I remark, next, that change of nature is the lest proof of the pardon of the sinner. You may come to me to-night, and say, “Sir, I am forgiven.” I am glad to hear it; but how will you behave at home tonight? “I am forgiven,” cries one, all of a sudden, under a sermon, as if electrified. Yes, yes; and you want to stop with us, do you, and never go home any more? That will not do, because such a cure as that could not be a perfect, business-like, common-sense cure. Go home to your house. Your moral actions, your temperance, your honesty, your chastity, your obedience to parents, your good conduct as a servant, your generosity as a master, these will not save you ; but unless we see them, how are we to know that Christ has wrought a miracle upon you ; and if he has not wrought a miracle upon you in raising you up from the palsy of sin, how do we know that he has forgiven you ? In fact, we do not know it, and we do not believe that he has, for these two things go together, the one as the evidence of the power that wrought the other. If you have been forgiven, you have been renewed. Sitting in this place to-night, you may be forgiven all your sin; but if you are, you will not be to-morrow what you have been to-day. The drunkard’s cup will not be lifted to your lips any more; the company of the lascivious will not be pleasant to you again; no oath, no profane speech, no foolish talk will come out of your mouth henceforth. Christ forgives you outright, not because you are cured of your evil habits; but he forgives you while you are still palsied; and the evidence that you are forgiven, the harder thing as the world will always judge it to be, is your taking up your bed, and walking home, quitting all your former sloth, for it will be sloth from this time. The bed which you could not help lying upon once, will become the couch of sloth to you if you lie on it any longer. You will take that up, and you will walk back, and be a man of activity, at your daily labour, in your own house, henceforth as long as you live.
Do notice this, dear hearers. We do not preach to you salvation by works; but when you are forgiven, then the good works come. The same Christ who makes you a new creature pardons your sin; you cannot have half a Christ, you must have Christ the Healer as well as Christ the Forgiver. If Christ could be cut up into lots, we could sell him off immediately; but if he is to be taken all at once as a Sin-killer as well as a Sin-forgiver, there are always some who will fight shy of him. I pray that not one of you may be of that kind.
I think, also, that the detailed obedience that the Saviour required teas the best evidence that he had forgiven the man’s sin: “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” Henceforth, to do everything that Christ bids you do, in the order in which he bids you do it, because he bids you do it, to do it at once, to do it joyfully, to do it constantly, to do it prayerfully, to do it thankfully, this shall be the token that he has indeed dealt with you as a pardoning God. O my dear hearers, I am afraid that there are some, who profess to have been forgiven, who are not as obedient to Christ as they ought to be! I have known them neglect certain duties; I even knew a man once, who would not read some parts of the Word of God because they made him feel uneasy; but be you sure of this, that when you and the Word of God fall out, the Word of God has right on its side. There is something rotten in the state of Denmark when you cannot read a chapter without feeling that you wish that it was not there. If there is any verse that you would like left out of the Bible, that is the verse that ought to stick to you, like a blister, until you really attend to its teaching. There is something wrong with you whenever you quarrel with the Word of God. I say again, that detailed obedience is the surest evidence that the Lord has forgiven your sin. For instance, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Do not you omit any part of that precept; and if Christ bids you come to his table, and thus remember him, do not live in neglect of that command. At the same time, remember to live soberly, righteously, honestly, godly, in this present evil age; for if you do not, if there is not a detailed obedience, there may be a fear that, after all, the Lord has never said to you, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.”
And, last of all, the best evidence is always seen at home: “Take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” If there is a place where piety is best seen, and best judged of, it is upon the family altar. What the man is at home, that he really is; what the woman is in her own house, that she is truly. It is very easy, you know, to masquerade in society, to seem to be something very wonderful upon the boards of the world’s theatre, and then not to be in reality the king that you seemed to be; but, after all, to be only a very sorry specimen of humanity. “Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” One said to me, this very day, of a certain man, “Do you think, sir, that he was a good man?” I said, “Well, brother, I think that he was a good man of a very bad sort.” I did not know how to put the truth more charitably. I remember an old woman, who went to hear a minister of a certain creed that she did not like, though he preached uncommonly well; and when she came out, they asked her how she got on with the preacher. She replied, “Well, he is one of the best of a very bad make.” Now, I do not like to have to say that of anybody who professes to be a Christian; and it should not be so. No; and I do not want you to be the worst of a good make, either; though that, perhaps, is better than being the best or the worst of a bad make. We want to be such that we can bear the fullest inspection.
“Ah!” says one, “I came here seeking the pardon of sin, and now, sir, you have got off to moral conduct.” Quite so; and that is where I want you to get off to. Seek the pardon of sin to-night; it is to be had, as I have told you, by faith: “Jesus seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” But if you want to make sure that Christ is really able to forgive your sin, the very best evidence to you, and the only evidence to the outside Scribes, will be that you take up your bed, and walk. “Oh!” say you, sometimes, “I have many sins still; but I am not what I used to be. I am a changed man at heart; I could not bear what I once enjoyed, I could not do what I once commonly did, and the things that I loathed and despised are now delightful to me.” I am glad that it is so with you, and I pray that it may be so with all my hearers. May God work that great and gracious change in many who are in this Tabernacle to-night, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.