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Luke 18:1-8.

And He spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray and not to give up; saying, There was in a city a judge, who feared not God, neither regarded man. And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge says. And shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry day and night to Him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?

In the sense of the letter, by the city is meant a city, by the judge a judge, and by the widow a widow, who applies to the judge to be avenged of her adversary, or of some one who had done her injury. But in the spiritual sense, by the city, here spoken of, is to be understood the doctrine of the church; and by the judge, the false principles and persuasions which prevailed in that doctrine, for it is said of him, that he feared not God, neither regarded man, intimating that he was void of all love and charity; and by the widow are to be understood those in the church who are in the desire of truth, from a principle of simple good, and from a conviction that without truth they can have no power against their spiritual enemies, the devil, the world, and the flesh.

It is written of the judge, when he was applied to by the widow to avenge her of her adversary, that he would not for a while. In the sense of the letter this means, that either through carelessness or disinclination, the judge delayed to grant the widow's request; but according to the spiritual idea, it denotes the delay and difficulty attending the subjugation of evil, and the powers of darkness, whilst man is under the influence of false principles and persuasions, and is thus in darkness respecting the eternal truth.

But it is added, that afterward he said within himself, though I fear not God, nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. According to the sense of the letter, it would appear from these words, that the unjust judge granted the widow's request merely for the purpose of saving himself the trouble of repeated solicitation. But under this literal sense of the above words is concealed a spiritual or internal sense, as in all other parts of the parable, which spiritual or internal sense teaches the certain prevalence of prayer, or holy desire, though it is not accompanied with the knowledge of heavenly truth, but, on the contrary, is immersed in the darkness of mistaken and false opinions. Jesus Christ, therefore, would instruct us, by this part of the payable, that every pure and upright desire of the humble and the penitent is sure, sooner or later, to obtain the redress of all its grievances, by being enlightened with that saving wisdom which has in it eternal life and salvation. He would teach us also a lesson of patience, and not to be discouraged, though our prayers are not immediately granted, nor our desires immediately gratified.

The Lord makes the application of the parable in these words: Hear what the unjust judge says. And shall not God avenge His own elect, who cry day and night to Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.

He would thus teach us, in the first place, to attend well to what the unjust judge says; in other words, to reflect continually in our own minds on the blessed and certain effects of importunate prayer, arising out of penitent, humble, and converted hearts, though it be not enlightened by the bright light of the Eternal Truth. And in the second place, He would instruct us concerning the superior prevalence of such holy prayer when it is so enlightened. For by the term God is here to be understood the divine truth, as by the term Lord is to be understood the divine good from whence the divine truth proceeds. By the elect also are meant those of the Church who are principled in heavenly good and charity; and by avenging them, is denoted the redress of all their grievances, and the removal of all evil, through the illumination of that eternal truth to which they apply themselves, and their everlasting conjunction with all its brightness and its blessing.

The expression day and night, includes every state of the mind, whether it be in light or in darkness, in consolation or in trouble; and therefore Jesus Christ would teach us by this expression, that our prayers to Him are of the same prevalence, and equally affect Him, whether they be attended with light and consolation to ourselves, or otherwise. Thus he would instruct us to pray alike, and not to give up, both in adversity and prosperity, in sorrow and in joy, when we are distressed through the want of heavenly light, and when we are gladdened which its abundance.

By the term speedily, according to the internal sense of the expression, is to be understood certainly, because the internal sense has no relation to time, but to the state of the thing treated of. Jesus Christ, therefore, by these apparently contradictory words, would instruct us, that all our sincere prayers will certainly be heard, and all our pure desires will certainly be granted, notwithstanding the appearance of delay on the part of our Heavenly Father, who converts even that delay into the means of our purification, by leading us to a deeper sense of our own wants and unworthiness, and thus to a more grateful sense of His mercies, when our requests are granted.

The parable concludes with these remarkable words, which seem to have no connection with it, Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?

The coming of the Son of Man means the revelation or manifestation of Divine Truth from God out of Heaven, for the instruction and salvation of His Church, or people, which revelation or manifestation, according to the testimony of the Sacred Scriptures, is to take place in the latter days, and is pointed at more especially by the descent of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, here upon earth, to be the tabernacle of God with men. Jesus Christ, therefore, would instruct us, by the above significant question, to take heed to the state of our hearts and lives, that when the Son of Man shall appear, or, in other words, when Divine Truth shall be revealed or made manifest, we may be found in a suitable disposition to receive it, neither overlooking it through carelessness, nor rejecting it through the wickedness of our lives.

Jesus Christ would teach us, then, in this parable, that He is present in every good desire of our hearts, and though this desire may not be attended with the light of truth at its first commencement, yet if we continue patiently to cherish it, and to keep it open to its Divine Source, it will assuredly, sooner or later, through the Divine Omnipotence, deliver us from all error of false doctrine and opinion, and conduct us to the bright light of the Eternal truth. He would teach us, yet further, that His apparent delay in granting our petitions is no ground of discouragement, but quite the contrary, since by that delay, if we are faithful to it, our purification is promoted, because our humiliation and dependence on God are rendered more absolute. Lastly, He would intimate to us, that this state of pure desire, and of devout humiliation and dependence, is the best possible state to prepare us for that promised Second Advent of the Son of Man, which the Scriptures announce to us, and which is to consist in a brighter display of heavenly truth to the Church, or people, of God, at a time when, through the influence of false doctrines, and more especially through the prevalence of evil love and corrupt affections, mankind shall have lost all just apprehension of the proper sense of the Sacred Scriptures, all true knowledge of God, and of the ways of salvation, and must thus perish everlastingly, unless the Word of God be again opened to their understandings in the power and brightness of that saving truth, of which it is the only proper source and fountain. Amen.