Page images
PDF
EPUB

I cannot marvel ik Zaccheus were desirous to see Jesus. All the world was not worth this sight. What happiness shall it be, so to see thee glorious, that in seeing thee we shall partake of thy glory! O blessed vision, to which all others are but despicable. Let me go into the mint-house, and see heaps of gold, I am never the richer : let me go to the pictures ;. I see goodly faces, and am never the fairer : let me go to the court; I see state and magnificence, and am never the greater : but, O Saviour, I cannot see thee, and not be blessed. I can see thee here, though in a glass. If the eve of my faith be dim, yet it is sure. O let me be unquiet, till I do now see thee through the veil of heaven, ere I shall see thee as I

am seen.

Fain would Zaccheus see Jesus, but he could not. It. were strange if a man should not find some obstacle to good desires : somewhat will be still in the way betwixt us and Christ. Here are two hinderances met; the one internal, the other external : the stature of the man, the press of the multitude; the greatness of the press, the smallness of the stature. There was great thronging in the streets of Jericho to see Jesus. Here are many beholders, few disciples. If gazing, if profession were godliness, Christ could not want followers: now, amongst all these wonderers, there is but one Zaccheus. In vain should we boast our forwardness to see and hear Christ in our streets, if we receive him not into our hearts.

The crowd hides Christ from Zaccheus. Alas! how common it is, by the interposition of the throng of the world, to be kept from the sight of our Jesus! Here a carnal fashionest says, Away with this austere scrupulousness; let me do as the most:" the throng keeps this man from Christ. There a superstitious misbeliever says, “What tell you me of a handful of reformed ? the whole world is ours :" this man is kept from Christ by the throng. The covetous mammonist

says,

“Let them that have leisure be devout; my employments are many, my affairs, great:" this man cannot see Christ for the throng.

A little man if his eye be clear, may look as high, though not as far, as the tallest. The least pigmy may, from the lowest valley, see the sun as fully as a giant on the highest mountain. O Saviour, thou art now in heaven;

[ocr errors]

1

the smallness of our person, or of our condition, cannot hinder us from beholding thee. The soul hath no stature; neither is heaven to be had with reaching : clear thou the eyes of my faith, and I am high enough.

The publican easily finds both his hinderances, and the ways of their redress. His remedy for the press is to run before the multitude; his remedy for his stature is to climb up into the sycamore: he employs his feet in the one, his hands and feet in the other. In vain shall he hope to see Christ, who does not outgo the common throng of the world. The multitude is clustered together, and moves too close to move fast; we must be nimbler than they, if ever we desire or expect to see Christ.

It is the charge of God, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil :" but we do evil if we lag in good. Indeed, for a man to run alone in ways of indifferency, or to set a hypocritical face of outrunning all others in a zealous profession—when the heart lingers behind, both these are justly hateful : but, in a holy emulation, to strive truly and really to outstrip others in degrees of grace, and a conscientious care of obedience, this is truly christian, and worthy of him that would hope to be blessed with the sight of a Saviour.

Tell me, ye fashionable christians, that stand on terms of equality, and will not go' a foot before your neighbours

in holy zeal and aidful charity, in conscientious sincerity tell me,

who hath made other men's progress a measure for yours? Which of you says, “I will be no richer, no greater, no fairer, no wiser, no happier than my fellows?” Why should you, then, say, “ I will be no holier ?" : Qur life is but a race.

Every good end that a man proposes to himself is a several goal. Did ever any man that ran for a prize, say, “I will keep up with the rest ? Doth he not know, that if he be not foremost he loses? We had as good to have sat still, as not "so to run that we may obtain.” We obtain not, if we outrun not the multitude.

So far did Zaccheus overrun the stream of the people, that he might have space to climb the sycamore ere Jesus could pass by.

Do you see a weak and studious christian, that, being -unable to inform himself in the matters of God, goes to the cabinet of heaven, " the priest's lips,” which shall

sup with him.

preserve knowledge ?" there is Zaccheus in the sycamore. O Saviour, I have not height enough of my own to see thee : give me what sycamore thou wilt; give me grace to use it; give me a happy use of that grace.

Who ever took pains to climb the sycamore, and came down disappointed ? O Saviour, when Zaccheus was above, and thou wert below, thou didst look up at him: now thou art above and we below, thou lookest down on us; thy mercy turns thine eyes every way towards our necessities. Look down on us, that are not worthy to look up unto thee, and find us out, that we may seek thee. What care we, that our names are obscure or contemned amongst men, while they are regarded by God; that they are raked up in the dust of the earth, while they are recorded in heaven? What pleasant and entire familiarity there is betwixt Christ and a believing heart ! “ If any man open, I will come in and

It is much for the King of glory to come into a cottage, and sup there; yet thus he may do, and take some state on him in sitting alone: no, “but I will so sup with him that he shall sup with me.” Earthly state consists in strangeness, and affects a stern kind of majesty aloof. Betwixt God and us, though there be infinitely more distance, yet there is a gracious affability, and familiar entireness of conversation. O Saviour, what dost thou else every day, but invite thyself to us in thy word, in thý sacraments ? Who are we, that we should entertain thee, or thou us? Dwarfs in grace; great in nothing but unworthiness. Thy praise is worthy to be so much the more, as our worth is less. Thou, that biddest thyself to us, bid us be fit to receive thee; and in receiving thee, happy.

Our Saviour said not, “Take thy leisure, Zaccheus;" but, “I will abide at thine house to-day.” Neither did Zaccheus, on this intimation, sit still, and say, “When

when I have done some errands of my office;" but he hastes down to receive Jesus. The angels of God are described with wings, and we pray to do his will with their forwardness. Yea, even to Judas, Christ saith, "What thou doest, do quickly." O Saviour, there is no day wherein thou dost not call us by the voice of thy gospel : what do we, still lingering in the sycamore? How unkindly must thou needs take the delays of our conversion! How canst thou but come to us in vengeance, if we come not down to entertain thee in a thankful obedience?

is over,

the press

Can we marvel that Zaccheus received Christ joyfully ? Who would not have been glad to have his house, yea, himself, made happy with such a guest ? Had we been in the stead of this publican, how would our hearts have leaped within us, for joy of such a presence! But O the incomparable happiness then, of that man, whose heart receives him, not for a day, not for years of days, not for millions of years, but for eternity! This may be our condition, if we are not straitened in ourselves. O Saviour, do thou welcome thyself to these houses of clay, that we may receive a joyful welcome to thee in those everlasting habitations.

O mercy and justice well repaid ! “This day is salvation come to thine house.” Lo, Zaccheus, that which thou givest to the poor, is nothing to that which thy Saviour gives to thee. If thou restorest four for one, here is more than thousands of millions for nothing. Were every one of thy pence a world, they could hold no comparison with this, bounty: it is but dross thou givest; it is salvation thou receivest. Thou gavest in present, thou dost not receive in hope; but, “this day is salvation come to thine house." Thine ill-gotten metals were a strong bar to bolt heaven's gates against thee; now that they are dissolved by a seasonable beneficence and restitution, those gates of glory fly open to thy soul. Where is that man, who can challenge God to be in his debt? Who can ever say, “Lord, this favour I did to the least of thine, and it is unrequited ?"

Bp. HALL.

REMARKABLE INTERPOSITION OF PROVIDENCE. A PIOUS visitor of the sick, early one sabbath morning, called on a very poor, but pious widow, whom he had been accustomed for some time occasionally to visit in her affliction. Those who occupy themselves in this work of christian love and duty, generally, perhaps I might say invariably, derive instruction or consolation from the very attempt they make to instruct or to console others. And, besides this, not unfrequently does it occur, that the pious sufferer becomes, in an eminent degree, the instrument of promoting the spiritual edification and comfort of the visitor ; sometimes unexpectedly so. Thus it was in the present instance. No sooner had he entered the door of her obscure and lowly dwelling, than she eagerly exclaimed, “O sir, I have something to tell you that will warm your heart." “Well, my friend,” said he, “that's right: my heart wants warming : let me hear it." She then proceeded, in substance as follows:

“ Last Thursday morning, to my no small dismay, I found that I had not a morsel of bread left in my cupboard, nor could I tell where to look for a fresh supply. Several hours passed away: no one came near me; and I began to feel

very faint and hungry. For some time I sat brooding over my sorrows, until at length I was tempted to give way to despondency. But all at once the thought came into my mind, 'Have I not a Father in heaven? Has he not encouraged me to ask of him my daily bread? And has he not promised that “ bread shall be given me, and my water shall be sure ?” Isa. xxxiii. 16, I will therefore “arise and go to my Father," and will lay before him all my wants." Accordingly, I arose, fell on my knees, and poured out my heart before our “ Father who seeth in secret.” I was enabled with humble confidence to plead his faithful word, and with assured hope to rest upon it. While thus engaged, such a peaceful, joyful feeling took possession of my soul, that I became, for the time, wholly unconscious of the sensation of hunger. On arising from prayer, I felt quite full, and it appeared to me then as if I could do without bread. I had not, however, been off my knees a quarter of an hour when I heard some one knock at the door. On opening it I saw a decently dressed woman, quite a stranger to me, holding something in her apron. name Gray ?' she asked. I replied, “Yes.' "I have been told,' said she, that you are very poor." I have a loaf here, (holding open her lap,) if you will accept it; and I'll tell you what induced me to bring it to you. - My husband, who is unwell, has a very sickly appetite; and on taking up this loaf at breakfast time this morning, he discovered that a mouse had been nibbling it; and this so turned his stomach, that he put it aside, begging me to take it out of the house, and not to let him see it any more.

So I enquired of a neighbour for some poor person to whom it would be acceptable, and was directed to you. I hope you

• Is not your

« PreviousContinue »