THE CONVERSION OF ZACCHEUS.
BY REV. WILLIAM CHARLES ROBERTS, D.D.. LL.D.
Luke xix. 5, 6 : " Zacclieus. make haste, and come down ;for to-day I must abide at thy house. And he made haste,and came down, and received him joyfully."THE disciples whose conversion was con-sidered in our last, lived in the quiethamlets that dotted the shores of theSea of Galilee. Their calling was that of fish-ermen, which was held in high repute amongthe Jews. They had not been contaminated bythe dissipation of society or by the corruptionof wealth in large and royal cities like Jericho.Zaccheus, on the other hand, was born andreared amid the pomp and splendor, the viceand temptations of the Herodian capital whichwas called " the city of fragrance," because thewhole plain was covered with aromatic shrubs;" the city of roses," because the valley of theJordan looked in the spring like a sea whippedinto foam, and " the city of palm trees," because24NEW TESTAMENT CONVERSIONS. 25the whole region abounded in richer vegeta-tion than that found in any other part of Pales-tine. At this time, Jericho was able to boastof the royal palace of Herod Antipas and of the gorgeous abodes of his courtiers. It formedthe golden key which unlocked Palestine andthe Mediterranean to the nations of the East.Its population was about one hundred thousandsouls, exclusive of the pilgrims who stopped therefor a season on their way home from observingthe Jewish passover.Zaccheus not only lived in a place full of temptations, but he occupied a position pecu-liarly trying to his religious principles, so faras he had any. He was the chief of the publi-cans ù an office of considerable importance underthe Roman government. A publican was thecollector of the imperial taxes. The methodsused by the Romans of collecting them, in acity like Jericho, was to farm them out ; thatis, to bind the officer to pay a certain sum tothe government, with the understanding that hewas entitled to all he could exact from the people.Under such circumstances a most favorable op-portunity was afforded him for extortion, fraudand violence. The strongest temptation was thus