On the two who went up into the temple to pray: and of the
little children who were presented unto Christ.
2. But inasmuch as faith belongs not to the proud, but to the humble,
"He spake this parable unto certain who seemed to themselves to be righteous,
and despised others. Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a
Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee said, God, I thank Thee
that I am not as the rest of men."11 He might at least have said, "as many
men." What does, "as the rest of men," mean, but all except himself? "I,"
he says, "am just, the rest are sinners." "I am not as the rest of men,
unjust, extortioners, adulterers." And, lo, from thy neighbour, the publican,
thou takest occasion of greater pride. "As," he says, "this publican."
"I," he says, "am alone, he is of the rest." "I am not," says he, "such
as he is, through my righteous deeds, whereby I have no unrighteousness."
"I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess."12 In all
his words seek out for any one thing that he asked of God, and thou wilt
find nothing. He went up to pray: he had no mind to pray to God, but to
laud himself. Nay, it is but a small part of it, that he prayed not to
God, but lauded himself. More than this he even mocked him that did pray.
"But the Publican stood afar off;"13 and yet he was in deed near to God.
The consciousness of his heart kept him off, piety brought him close. "But
the Publican stood afar off:" yet the Lord regarded him near. "For the
Lord is high, yet hath He respect unto the lowly."14 But "those that are
high" as was this Pharisee, "He knoweth afar off. "The high" indeed "God
knoweth afar off," but He doth not pardon them. Hear still more the humility
of the Publican. It is but a small matter that he stood afar off; "he did
not even lift up his eyes unto heaven." He looked not, that he might be
looked upon. He did not dare to look upwards, his conscience pressed him
down: but hope lifted him up. Hear again, "he smote his breast." He punished
himself: wherefore the Lord spared him for his confession. "He smote his
breast, saying, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner." See who he is that prays.
Why dost thou marvel that God should pardon, when he acknowledges his own
sin? Thus thou hast heard the cases of the Pharisee and Publican; now hear
the sentence; thou hast heard the proud accuser, thou hast heard the humble
criminal; hear now the Judge. "Verily I say unto you." The Truth saith,
God saith, the Judge saith it. "VerilyI say unto you, That Publican went
down from the temple justified rather than that Pharisee."15 Tell us, Lord,
the cause. Lo! I see that the publican goes down from the temple justified
rather than the Pharisee. I ask why? Dost thou ask why? Hear why. "Because
every one that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself
shall be exalted."16 Thou hast heard the sentence, beware of its evil cause.
In other words, thou hast heard the sentence, beware of pride.
3. Let now those ungodly babblers, whosoever they be, who presume on
their own strength, let them hear and see these things: let them hear who
say, God made me a man, I make myself just. O thou who art worse and more
detestable than the Pharisee! The Pharisee in the Gospel did indeed call
himself just, but yet he gave thanks to God for it. He called himself just,
but yet he gave God thanks. "I thank Thee, O God, that I am not as the
rest of men." "I thank Thee, O God. He gives God thanks, that he is not
as the rest of men: and yet he is blamed as being proud and puffed up;
not in that he gave God thanks, but in that he desired as it were no more
to be added unto him. "I thank thee that I am not as the rest of men, unjust."
So then thou art just; so then thou askest for nothing; so then thou art
full already; so then the life of man is not a trial upon earth;17 so then
thou art full already; so then thou aboundest already, so then thou hast
no ground for saying, "Forgive us our debts!" What must his case be then
who impiously impugns grace, if he is blamed who give thanks proudly?
4. And, lo, after the case had been stated, and the sentence pronounced,
little children also came forth, yea, rather, are carried and presented
to be touched. To be touched by whom, but the Physician? Surely, it will
be said, they must be whole. To whom are the infants presented to be touched?
To whom? To the Saviour. If to the Saviour, they are brought to be saved.
To whom, but to Him "who came to seek and to save what was lost."18 How
were they lost? As far as concerns them personally, I see that they are
without fault, I am seeking for their guiltiness. Whence is it? I listen
to the Apostle, "By one man sin entered into the world. By one man," he
says, "sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed
upon all men by him in whom all sinned."19 Let then the little children
come, let them come: let the Lord be heard. "Suffer little children to
come unto Me."20 Let the little ones come, let the sick come to the Physician,
the lost to their Redeemer: let them come, let no man hinder them. In the
branch they have not yet committed any evil, but they are ruined in their
root. "Let the Lord bless the small with the great."21 Let the Physician
touch both small and great. the cause of the little ones we commend to
their eiders. Speak ye for them who are mute, pray for them who weep. If
ye are not their elders to no purpose, be ye their guardians: defend them
who are not able yet to manage their own cause. Common is the loss, let
the finding be common: we were lost all together, together be we found
in Christ. Uneven is the desert, but common is the grace. They have no
evil but what they have drawn from the source: they have no evil but what
they have derived from the first original. Let not them keep them off from
salvation. who to what they have so derived have added much more evil.
The eider in age is the eider in iniquity too. But the grace of God effaces what
thou hast derived, effaces too what thou hast added. For, "where sin abounded,
grace hath superabounded."22
11 Luke xviii. 9-11.
12 Luke xviii. 12.
13 Luke xviii. 13.
14 Ps. cxxxviii. 6.
16 Luke xviii. 14.
17 Job vii. 1, Sept.
18 Luke xix. 10.
19 Rom. v. 12.
20 Luke xviii. 16.
21 Ps. cxv. 13.
22 Rom. v. 20.