ZACCHAEUS BY THOMAS AR OLD, D.D.

St. Luke xix. 9. This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. These words were spoken of Zacchaeus, whose story, mentioned by St. Luke alone among the four Evangelists, was read in the second lesson for this morning's service. Although it is in its principal points in exact agreement with other passages in the Gospels, equally relating to our Lord's treatment of sinners, yet I do not know that the whole view of the Gospel forgiveness of sins, is anywhere more fully given than in this particular case, and it is for this reason that I wished to make it the subject of our consideration this day. Zacchseus was a chief among the publicans, and rich. I need not say that by publicans are meant farmers of the taxes ; that is to say, not simple collectors of taxes, whose business it is merely to collect from different individuals a certain sum fixed by the law, and which they, having collected it, then pay over into the hands of other oflBcers appointed to receive it ; not tax-gatherers or taxcollectors in the present sense of the word, but farmers of the taxes ; — men who made it a trade or speculation, first paying to the government a certain sum, and then being

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empowered to repay themselves and to make their own

profit, by gettins^ as much as they could from the people. Having thus a direct interest in the collection, they were not only watchful to exact to the utmost everything which might legally be demanded, but, as the times were bad, and the law was not always strong enough to protect the poor, they often frightened persons into paying more than was due, by the terror of bringing false or frivolous accusations against them if they did not comply with the publican's extortions. Accordingly, they became so generally odious, that they are, as we know, represented as one of the worst classes of men ; so unprincipled that it was a discredit to any respectable person to mix with them in society. A calling in such ill repute as the publican's, and libounding in so many temptations, must have been highly unfavourable to any man's virtue. If a disgracefril mark be fixed upon any business or calling in life, men of the best sort are apt to avoid this calling, and it gets filled chiefly with tlie worst. Again, in a way of life which is very ill spoken of, a man is likely to think a great deal of a very low degree of goodness. He is not as bad as others in his profession, and of that he makes a merit. He mi<>;ht thus be at once living in great sin, and in much self-satisfaction also ; living worse than the generality of men in other callings, and yet proud of himself, because he was not so bad as the generality of men in his own. So exceedingly dangerous is it to have a low standard of virtue in that particular society to which we belong ; as we are thus disposed not only to live wickedly, but to deceive our consciences all the time by thinking that we are better than our immediate neighbours. With these temptations in his particular calling as a publican were united, in the case of Zacchaeus, the general temptations of wealth besides. These are, to draw us

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away at once from God and from our poorer brethren, and to fix our minds on our own enjoyments ; for indulgence, like other things, grows by practice and exercise. He who is rich has the means of indulging himself; and the more he does so, the more he wishes to do it. Further than this, if public morals be low, or public opinion not able to reach the highest classes, then the indulgences procured by wealth will often be of the worst kind; and riches will lead not only to selfishness, but to that degree of shameless wickedness which we find noticed both by sacred writers and profane about the time of the beginning of Christianity. Thus Zacch^us was, humanly speaking, in as unfavourable a situation for tiurning to God, as any one could be at that time. He was one of a set of men who might emphatically be called, ' that which was lost.' And therefore when we find our Lord saying of this man, ' This day is salvation come to this house ; for that he also is a son of Abraham,' it is impossible not to perceive the freeness and fulness of the grace of the Gospel, which at once, — with no long probation of penitence or trial required, — at once forgiving all the past, and trusting for the future, declares to this lost sinner that he was one of Abraham's children, and partaker therefore of Abraham's blessing. This is so true, that to deny it were to deny the very foundation of the Gospel. But yet, in giving this statement, I have not yet given the whole picture contained in the account of Zacchseus, and what remains is no less essential. The forgiveness was. entire and immediate, because the repentence had been no less unhesitating and no less entire. ' Zacchaeus sought to see Jesus,' — we know not with how much of mere curiosity, nor with what an imperfect knowledge ; but he sought and took pains to see Him ; and He who is found by all that seek Him, said immediately,

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^ Zaechseus, make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide at thy house.' But when Christ was come to him, when his first imperfect desires for good had been so largely blessed, then the love of Christ constrained him, and with no reserves, with no hesitation, he gave up all his heart to Him. Zacchaeus stood and said unto the Lord, * Behold, the half of my goods I give to the poor ; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.' His repentance goes the full range of his temptations : he was rich, and had probably been self-indulgent and neglectful of his brethren ; behold, now, he gives the half of all his property to the poor ; — half of all his means of support and indulgence he throws from him at one blow. Again, he was a chief among the publicans, he had done as others of his calling had done ; he had exacted more than the law allowed, by the terror of false informations : behold, now, if he has robbed any man in this manner, he resolves to restore him foiufold. He cares not for the sacrifice ; he does not ask whether strict justice required so large a measure of restitution ; much less whether the law was ever likely to enforce it ; but he wishes to free himself wholly from the accursed thing, unlawful gain ; he wishes to judge himself, that he be not judged of the Lord ; he cannot bear that any portion of sin or sinful profit should remain in that heart and house which Christ, and Christ's Spirit, had deigned to visit. So, then, no less complete and unreserved than the gift of the Gospel forgiveness, is the feeling and the act of Christian repentance. Here, then, we find the Gospel in all its entireness ; we see what is meant by forgiveness, and also what is meant by repentance. Let our repentance be as full, as

unreserved, as inunediate as that of Zacchaeus, and this day, yea, this hour, is salvation come into our house, and it is proved that we also are sons of Abraham.

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Indeed, the story is our own in part already ; it remains with us to see whether we will make it ours wholly. Christ has come to us, even though we sought not for Him so much as Zacchseus did, yet He says to us all, ' Today I must abide at thy house.' To-day, while it is called to-day, this one short day of our earthly life. He is pleased to abide with us. He is here with all His goodness. His full forgiveness, His grace inexhaustible; He ia here amongst us to-day. Shall it be that when the morning of the next, the eternal day, arises, we shall let Him pass on His way, and shall have had Him amongst us in vain for one short space, to see us again no more for ever ? He is come to us, and now He waits tx> see how we will receive Him. Perhaps it may be as He was received by the Pharisee, with cold respect, and no gratitude. We call him Lord, nay, when He tells us that He has something to say to as, we answer Him respectfully, ' Master, say on.' We hear His word, we listen to it, we admire it ; it is very piure, very beautiful ; never man spake like this man. We delight to have Him amongst us, to enjoy the high distinction of being a Christian nation ; not sunk in ignorance, but having the full light of truth, and able thereby to imderstand all knowledge. But where is our true love for Him the while, and where our consequent repentance ? We think that we need but little to be for-

given, and therefore we love little ; and because we love little, therefore also we repent little. Or we may receive Him as Martha did. We may honour Him, admire Him, love Him, and be anxious to serve Him. We may be diligent in serving His body, the Church, diligent in promoting its worldly advantage, diligent yet more in setting forward its great work, the advance of truth and goodness. Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, noble, pure, and true, on these we may think, and love them, and do them. And

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yet it may be that we do not receive Him with the true penitence of Zacchaeus, or the true love of Mary; and therefore we may miss the full pardon of the one, and the blessing of the other. But we may receive Him also like Zacchaeus, and like Mary ; first like the one, and then like the other. First, like Zacchaeus: Christ is come to us, biit we cannot sit down with Him at the table of which He vouchsafes to be a partaker with us ; we cannot be one with Him, or He with us, till we have stood and given up to Him our whole heart in true repentance. Do we ask of what we are to repent, and how we are to show it ? Let us look again at Zacchaeus, and consider, as he did, the sins and temptations of oiu: general life, and those also of our particular calling. In the former respect we are for the most part as he was. We all here assembled, in comparison with the largest portion of our fellow-creatures, may well be called rich. We all must so far be like Zacchaeus, that we have tasted and are tasting daily of the indulgences which riches, or if you will, which plenty, can afford us. We have all in this respect something to look to, some-

thing, I am sure, of which to repent. We may not be called upon to give the half of our goods to the poor, though neither, in fact, does it appear that he was called upon to do so. But siu-ely there are indulgences which might be restrained, there are denials of ourselves for the sake of our poorer brethren, which if we do not make, how dwelleth the love of Christ in us ? — how can we be moved to true repentance ? — how obtain Christ's free forgiveness? Then again, in our particular calling, have we nothing to repent of there ? no waste of time, which should be made up by a fourfold diligence ? no spirit of indifference to our duty, to be made up by a fourfold zeal? Can we wonder that so few of us feel the abiding sense of Christ's forgiveness, when we know,— oiu: hearts too surely

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tell us, — that we have not probed them to the bottom ? We have not opened them wholly t^^ Christ : all their evil has not been abandoned; all their best has not been oflFered, I hardly dare go on to dwell on the blessed state of those who, having once received Christ like Zacchseus, receive Him now like Mary, — those who, having truly repented, and having been fully forgiven, can now sit gratefully and joyfully at Christ's feet to hear His word. ot indeed that they sit still in the literal sense ; they are not idle, nor indolent, nor inactive, but contented and peaceful. Their bodies are at woik, their minds may be vigorous ; but their spirits are still at Christ's feet, and nothing can draw them from 'their rest. Theirs is indeed the better part, who have so found Christ in this life, as to make this life appear no other than the beginning of life everlasting. But who among us have attained as yet to

this state ? — who may dare to look upon it without presumption, or without humiliation ? Zacchaeus' state must be ours first ; and woe be to us if it be not so. Christ is with us, but we are not with Him, our salvation is not come to us, unless there be first our hearty repentance : unless we are afraid to sit down with Him, to take any rest in His presence, before we have opened our hearts to Him, praying to Him to help us in opening them ; that whatever of lurking evil is in them may be made as visible to our eyes as to His, and that having been made visible, it may be cast oflF utterly ; even as He also will cast it oflF, and us together with it, to everlasting destruction, when the judgment which we had been afraid to pronounce upon our sins. He will pronounce for ever upon them and upon us.

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