PROBLEMS OF LIFE. < THE WOMAN WHO WAS A SINNER." BY THE REV. Re J. CAMPBELL, D-D. [OaPTKIffHT.] v v Troubled desires to call attention to a statement made by me either in this column or a Lenten address, he cannot remember which. He says it was to the effect that Mary of Bethany was iden- tical with the woman that was a sinner— that is, was a woman of immoral life— and that our Lord was the means of delivering her from her desperate condi- tion and reuniting her to her family. He says that if this view of a favourite New Testament character could be established it would throw an entirely new light upon our Lord's relations with the home at Bethany, and incidentally, upon the whole mystery of redemption and sanctification. I have not given the entire substance of Troubled's letter, for in the greater, part thereof he quite muddles up the story in question, and also credits* me with saying some things about it which I neither said nor wish to say. Like him, I cannot remember whether I have previously referred to the subject in this ? column or not, but certainly I have done f so from the pulpit, for it is one which §-■ greatly, interests me, and is I think, as good an illustration as could be found in the New Testament of the larger impli- cations of Divine forgiveness. So far from being new, the theory that Mary of Bethany was the same person as the sinful woman who washed our Lord's feet with her tears and wiped them with the -iairs of her head in the house of Simon the Pharisee is quite old. It is the or- dinary Roman Catholic interpretation of the facts given about her in the Gos- pels. Perhaps on this account it may not commend itself to some of our mili- tant Protestant readers. Protestant exegetes, for the most part, repudiate it, though not all of them do so, and some high authorities accept it without question. As far as I can gather, the main, reason why Protestant readers of L the Bible generally object to the identifi- cation alluded to above is that they shrink from believing that a woman who had sunk so low as to become a common prostitute could afterwards attain to such close spiritual intimacy with Christ as that which was manifestly enjoyed by Mary of Bethany. I can remember how, many years ago during my ministry in Brighton, a scandalised and angry lady protested against a remark I had made to this effect in the course of an address to an adult Bible class. She said it was incredible, and would spoil the whole story of the home of Bethany for her if she were compelled to believe. it. To think that anyone so foul and degraded C", could for a moment be associated in our L minds with the pure and holy virgin whom Jesus commended for having chosen the good part which could not be taken from her, was nothing less than an insult both to our Lord Himself and to the quiet family circle He loved so well. Was it? That is the first thought that might occur to some people; but do they see what they are saying ? They are setting limits to the S,aviourhood of | Christ; they are practically declaring that there are some stains He cannot jv cleanse, some sins for which His atone- ment is insufficient, that The bird with a broken pinion v Never soars so high again. That is the way the world talks; but it is I not the way in which a Christian ought to talk. The vilest sinner may become I the brightest saint; there are no barriers on the heavenward road. There is no | reason whatever for thinking that a soul must have lived stainlessly in order to be worthy of theDiighest and sweetest fel- lowship with our Blessed Redeemer. We do no honour to Him by suggesting that there are moral problems to which His grace is unequal, or that any who have once been down in the mire of fleshly indulgence must for ever after stand afar off when they come into the presence of the King 'of Saints. On the contrary, Wé have His express authority for r believing the opposite. z Thus it is not because there is any dif- Jfioulty in holding. that the woman who was a sinner could in later days become a chosen friend of Jesus—last at the Cross, firsts at the tomb^that one may r y t. rjsafionaidy identify the two. But need Ye say that Mary.was a. sinner in the K sense usually understood in this instance ? That she was conventionally so described by those who knew her does not neces- sarily mean that she was a person of notoriously evil life. Tradition does not tell us that. What the ancient Catholic tradition, which pieces together the vari- ous new Testament allusions to this woman, tells us is that she had been ex- pelled from her home and circle for con- sorting with a foreign lover, perhaps a husband—a very different thing from wallowing in sensuality. If, Mary were the daughter of Simon the Pharisee she could not have done a more reprehen- sible thing in her father's eyes than to form a union with a Gentile, especially cine of the hated race of Israel's oppressors. She is said to have left her home with a young Greek centurion in the service of the Roman army of occu- pation in Palestine. For this she was solemnly cursed and excommunicated by her implacable parent, who in this was only acting according to his lights, and would do the same to-day in similar cir- cumstances. Later, either abandoned by the young man or left a widow, friendless and forlorn, she seems to have come under the influence of Jesus, per- haps at the gathering of publicans and sinners in Matthew's house. Certainly she would be among the weary and heavy laden to whom He promised rest. Did she follow Him to the neighbourhood of her old home in the south? Was our Lord's entrance into Simon's house no casual visit but the outcome of a tender purpose to restore this sorrowing wan- dered to her family? Was that why she went there in His company ? Well, so the tradition affirms or implies, and the New Testament narrative supports the supposition. Why did she weep but that she saw no sign of relenting in the stern countenance of her father ? She was to him as one dead; she had wrought folly in Israel and there could be no for- giveness for her. Why did the Pharisee condemn Jesus in his heart for allowing a sin f ul woman to touch His sacred feet? Was it not because he knew so well who the sinful woman was, his own daughter ? Jesus had brought her there, so the host did not thrust her from his doors, but he took no notice of her. Neither was he over courteous to the Master Himself. The usual amenities of an Oriental welcome were withheld. There was no kiss of greeting, no water for the ceremonial ablutions before the meal, no ointment for the weary limbs; the slight w,as intentional. At length the visitor's indignation broke forth. Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee," He declared. Then He vividly contrasted the two persons at His side, the proud Pharisee and the grief-stricken penitent. • There is a sequel to the story. Ap- parently the good brother and sister did what the father would not and made a home for Mary, that home in which Jesus was hereafter, and with good reason, the most beloved and welconje of friends. It was at Bethany that He chose to sojourn rather than in the capi- tal in those exciting and troublous days which began with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the cleansing of the Temple. Every evening He went out there after His exacting day in the city. There no doubt, in Lazarus's garden, He was arrested, for of course Judas knew where to find Him. And who was the solitary watcher, wra-pped only in a single sleeping garment, who heard the words of agony that fell from His lips in Gethsemane and which the, slumbering Apostles heard not? Who but Lazarus? Was the tragedy deeper still?—the be- trayer is called "Simon's son." and was the only one of the apostolic band who came from the south., Did the bringing of Mary home, together with the raising of Lazarus, lead ultimately to the Master's death ? The Pharisees wefre evi- dently intimate with this family as is shown by their presence at Laza.rus's grave. When Judas originally joined himself to Jesus the Pharisees had been ready to approve the new Teacher. But from the day of the raising of Lazarus they were determined to destroy Him; Had the forming of the home at Bethany nothing to do with the final rupture ? Christ Church Vicarage, Westminster, S.W. 1.
RHODES GIFT TO OXFORD. A SUM of £ 20,000 has been given to the Rhodes Trustees to Oxford University for establishing a professorship and ad- vancing the study of Roman Dutch law.
CHURCH ENABLING BILL PASSED. > VIGOROUS SECOND KteADlNtt DEBATE. OVERWHELMING MAJORITY. (By Our Parliamentary Correspondent.) THE Church Enabling Bill, or to give • it its full official title, the National I Assembly of the Church of England I (Powers) Bill, which originated in the House of Lords, and was held over by the House of Commons, is now tolerably certain of being passed into law. It was given 'a second reading in the lower House on Friday and by an exceedingly large majority. How favourable a recep- tion was given to the Bill at this stage is shown by the fact that only one Welsh member, and an unimportant member of that party, opposed the Bill, which is remarkable, having regard to the deter- mination of a small group to raise the issue of disestablishment in a direct form. There were two divisions. One took place on the disestablishment amendment, which was defeated by 304 votes to 16 without counting the tellers. The other was on the question of sub- mitting the Bill to a Committee of the whole House instead of to a Standing Committee upstairs. There were only 39, including tellers, in favour of a Com- mittee of the whole House, and 250 voted against. The real fight on the details of the Bill will therefore take place in a comparatively small but representative Committee. It will be seen that for a Friday sitting an unusually large attend- ance of members marked the occasion. Quite a number of peers followed the pro- ceedings with considerable interest, among them the Bishops of Ely, Chelms- ford, Chichester and Gloucester. Pressed at the close of the debate, Lord Edmund Talbot, who had asked the House on be- half of the Government to vote in favour of the Bill going upstairs, declined to commit himself as to whether or not the Bill will become a Government measure after it has passed Committee, He ex- pects it will. The Debate. The debate lasted five hours, with a high interest sustained from first to last. There was a general desire to give the Church the widest powers possible com- patible with the Establishment, and the real opposition came from a small sec- tion, who, paradoxically, pleading for the complete freedom of the Church from the State, yet fought to retain as much Parliamentary control as possible over the matters upon which the Church is now seeking reform. These members had been in negotiation during the week with the view to agreement upon the estab- lishment of a new joint committee of both Houses, which, however, came to nothing. It had been hoped that Colonel Sir Robert Williams, who had been inti- mately connected from the first with the movement of which this Bill is the out- come, would have been able to propose the second reading. He unfortunately was obliged to go abroad, and the task was undertaken by Sir Edward Beau- champ, who delivered a speech of singu- lar ability. The National Church," he said in opening, "is a great potential force in the religious life of this nation. It asks Parliament to give her more free- dom to manage her own internal affairs, for she feels that, if this great force is to be used to the greatest advantage, it is necessary that some of the fetters which bind her should be removed, fetters which prevent, her from dealing with some of the improvements which require to be made, and, indeed, with removing some things which are in the nature of a scandal. Twenty years ago Dr. Gore, late Bishop of Oxford, said that multi- tudes of good men had been driven out of the Church because of these scandals. He said at that time that many more were still being driven out, and, there- fore he asked that Churchmen should re- move those scandals, and he said that that would be done when Churchmen awoke from their apathy." Advowsons and Tenure, Sir Edward, warming to his subject, began to give examples of the scandals. He mentioned first the sale of advowsons, and declared that the traffic in livings still existed, to support which statement he quoted advertisements from recent newspaper issues. One of these was as follows:— "Advowson (good) for sale, with possession 6th November." Another evil he mentioned was the tenure of livings. H Under the existing law," he said, it is impossible to remove an in- cumbent, however unsuitable he may be for the work he has to do. He may neglect his ministrations; he may empty his church; he may be able to make no impression on his people. As long as, he leads a moral life and has his two services in church on Sunday, no power OR earth can remove him. He remains in the church as in a freehold, while the work of his parish goes to wrack and ruin." Then there were questions of administra- tion, perhaps equally important. They wanted means for getting Church legisla- tion through Parliament in order to deal, for instance;, with the poverty of the clergy, owing in a great measure to ■! dilapidations they had to 'make good. They wanted the Dilapidations Bill amended, but it had 73 clauses, and it was impossible to ask Parliament to con- sider its amendment. An urgent ques- tion, too, was the amalgamation of parishes. He could take members to several places in the oounty of Norfolk where the parishes were so close that they could hear the bells of several churches simultaneously. These parishes could be worked from one centre, but tb4erevil could not be remedied unless Parliament made some alteration in its procedure. He showed how impossible it was to get a Church Bill through Parliament, and mentioned that during the long period of his own membership of Parliament only one Bill had got through, and that in spite of obstruction, dealing with the division of the diocese of Norwich.' Sir Edward gave the record of recent years. From 1880 to 1913, 217 Church Bills were introduced in that House; 183 were never heard of again, one was negatived, and 33 were passed. Of the 33, thirteen were sponsored by the Government of the day. In that same period Nonconformist Bills have been little better treated; 49 out of 74 had to be dropped. The mover out- lined the movement which had led to the Bill, and closed with an eloquently phrased appeal to the House. An Amendment. Prefacing his remarks by disclaiming all feeling of hostility to the Church, Mr. T. T. Broad, a Coalition Liberal, moved a rejection amendment in the following termsWhile expressing the fullest sympathy with the aims of the Anglican Church? for life and liberty in securing the rights of self-government and free- dom' from State control, but believing that these aims can best be realised by removing the Anglican Church by dis- establishment and disendowment from a position of privilege, and so securing equal rights for all citizens and oppor- tunity for true religious development, this House declines to give a second read- ing to this Bill." Mr. Broad frankly recognised the power, the influence and the great services rendered by the Church throughout many centuries, and the fact that these times, when there is so much indifference to religion, in his opinion were not the occasion to oppose any conscientious effort on the part of the Church to make itself more efficient. But he thought Sir Edward Beauchamp's speech was the most impressive plea for disestablishment he had ever heard. Major Barnes, a Newcastle Liberal, seconded with a .rather ill-balanced speech. Sir John Randles, a Non- conformist, rebuked Major Barnes for claiming to speak for the Free Churches. "I believe," he added, earnestly, "that the narrow views of years gone by held by Nonconformists are disappearing." He. believed it was a good Bill-good for the Church and for the nation. He agreed that Church Bills had little chance with the present procedure, and felt that he dare not vote against a Bill which would do something to help the greater vitality and usefulness of a. branch of the Church of Christ, although it was not the branch to which the speaker belonged, of the universal Catho- lic Church. Mr. G. 'R. Thome," the Liberal Whip, as a. Free Churchman appealed that the Bill should not" be pressed forward, as it would revive sec- tarian strife, being a challenge to Non- conformity. A Lively Speech. The House enjoyed immensely a clever and lively speech from Mr. James Hope. He agreed that it was repugnant for any man to have the right and power, in virtue of his civic status alone, to inter- fere with the. internal affairs of a reli- gious body to which he did not belong. "I am an orthodox, exclusivist, infalli- bilist Papist," he added, "and I would really ask some of my hon. friends to say am i a fit and proper person to interfere in the,discipline, doctrine, and ritual of the Church of England? They would certainly answer in the negative. What about others, perhaps at the other end? Take the Postmaster-General. Would it really be seemly if he and I, using our privileges as Members of Parliament, were to indulge in a debate as to the time or mode of baptism ? Or go further and take the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is a Unitarian. If James 1. were reigning, my right hon. friend would be haled before the Consistory Court of St. Paul's and burned, while Iwas being half- hanged and vivisected round the corner. I venture to think it would be a very mean revenge for him or me to avenge the sufferings of our ancestors by trying to guide the Established Church in dif- ferent directions." But in the end Mr. Fitzalan Hope blessed the Bill and de- clared it to be the duty of Parliament not to let the Church suffer under the dead hand of an out of date Erastianism. After him came Sir William Joynson Hicks, an avowed Low Church Protes- tant, but expressed a real fear of the limitation of the Church of England leading to Disestablishment, against I which he had fought all his life. Mr. Aneurin Williams, a Liberal, would have supported the Bill if certain amendments had not been ruled out. "This Bill is an attempt to obtain Disestab- lishment by bloodless surgery under the influence of twilight sleep," said Mr. Hugh Edwards, a life- long Disestablisher, who described the Prime Minister as an ardent Noncon- formist, a rigid Baptist, the strictest of the strict, and added that yet all the great appointments of the Church were in the keeping and custody of a Baptist. If he were a Churchman he would say that there was something wrong in a system which allowed a man not in com- (munion with the Church to appoint the Archbishops and Bishops of that Church, Lord Robert Cecil. A masterful speech from Lord Robert Cecil wound up the case for the Bill. He pointed out how the constitutional effect of the Bill had been grossly exaggerated. This Bill," he containued, does not take away any rights or any privileges from anybody, either Nonconformist or Churchman, in the kingdom, and it leaves Parliament in exactly the position it always has been. Parliament can pass any measure it chooses affecting the Church of England after this Bill has I passed exactly as it could before. There is no alteration in that respect. What does the Bill do? It proposes to facili- tate legislation affecting the Church by allowing it to pass through Parliament without all the forms of Parliament which are now insisted upon. We have done that in various ways for a great number of things. The whole of our Provisional Order procedure, the whole of our Scottish Private Bill legislation, are instances of that. Parliament has set up its present procedure, so elaborate and so carefully devised that anyone whq wishes to oppose a Bill has every-clianod to do so, with the result, on the whole, of stagnation rather than progress. All this Bill does is to free Church legislation from that procedure. It does it in this way. It says that where a particular' measure has been recommended by a body which has already been created--and as far as the Church can do that it has been created by the legitimate authority of the Church, which has taken every pos- sible measure to ensure that every Churchman shall have every opportunity, if he chooses, of objecting to the nature of its constitution." Church Work Hampered. To say that the Bill abolished Parlia- mentary control was a fantastic perver- sion of the facts. Lord Robert dealt seriatim with all the objections raised against the Bill. He mentioned the present drawbacks, and, continuing, sa.id: _u All these cases require to be dealt with, and many more. There is the sale of advowsons. There is the question of financial difficulties connected with dilapidation. There is the case of re- organisation, not only the case of the number of small parishes in scattered districts, but the case, of the episcopate itself and the difficulty of getting new bishoprics. All these are urgent difficul- ties hampering the work of the Church and of Christianity, and it is to obtain some means of dealing with those difficul- ties and abuses that this Bill is passed. This is a measure the constitutional im- portance of which has been exaggerated, but the practical importance of which is overwhelming. It is essential not only for the Church, but for the Christian life of this country,- that the Bill should be passed. I am not in the least afraid of putting it as high as that. To object to it on the ground that you Cannot do it without accepting a different and much more extensive change, and that you are bound to let these abuses go on and use them as a pawn in your ecclesiastical game is a proposition which Ihapé no House of Commons, least of all this House of Commons, will ever. accept." Mr. Bonar Law, who had not consulted his colleagues, made a friendly speech. The standpoints from which I regard this. are twofold," he declared. The first is whether the Church of England as a whole desire this change. I satisfied myself that they did—all sections. That was the first consideration. The second is of even more importance. We do not need to make any confessions—the House knows what I mean—but at a time like this you cannot have too strong forces which look at things not altogether from the material point of view. It is the duty,-surely, of this House, as it would be of this nation, not to allow its mind to be influenced by the feeling that we must get rid of the establishment! Whatever its merits, that is obviously something which cannot be done for years and years. What we have to ask ourselves is, Will the change help in making the Church of England a more useful weapon-in the fight against evil?'*