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every perfect gift cometh down from above ; how can we look off from that place whence we receive all good ? Thou didst not teach us to say, O infinite God, which art every where; but, “ O our Father which art in heaven;" there let us look up to thee. Oh let not our eyes or hearts grovel upon this earth, but let us fasten them “above the hills, whence cometh our salvation ;" thence let us acknowledge all the good we receive, thence let us expect all the good we want.
Why our Saviour looked up to heaven, though he had heaven in himself, we can see reason enough. But why did he sigh? surely not for need : the least motion of a thought was in him impetratory : how could he choose but be heard by his father, who was one with the Father ? not for any fear of distrust, but partly for compassion, partly for example ; for compassion of those manifold infirmities into which sin had plunged mankind, a pitiful instance whereof was here presented unto him ; for example, to fetch sighs from us for the miseries of others, sighs of sorrow for them, sighs of desire for their redress. This is not the first time that our Saviour spent sighs, yea tears, upon human distresses. We are not bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, if we so feel not the smart of our brethren, that the fire of our passion break forth into the smoke of sighs. “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not ?"
Christ was not silent while he cured the dumb ; his Ephphatha gave life to all these his other actions. His sighing, his spitting, his looking up to heaven, were the acts of a man; but his command of the ear and mouth to open, was the act of God. He could not command that which he made not: his word is imperative, ours supplicatory. He doth what he will with us; we do by him what he thinks good to impart. In this mouth the word cannot be severed from the
Our Saviour's lips are no sooner opened in his Ephphatha, than the mouth of the dumb, and the
ears of the deaf, are opened. At once behold here celerity and perfection. Natural agents work by leisure, by degrees; nothing is done in an instant, by many steps is every thing
carried from the entrance to the consummation. Omnipotency knows no rules. No imperfect work can proceed from a cause absolutely perfect. The man hears now more lightly than if he had never been deaf; and speaks more plainly, than if he had never been tongue-tied: and can we blame him, if he bestowed the handsel of his speech upon the power that restored it ? if the first improvement of his tongue were the praise of the Giver, of the Maker of it? or can we expect other than that our Saviour should say, Thy tongue is free, use it to the praise of him that made it so; thy ears are open, hear him that bids thee proclaim thy cure upon the house-top? But now behold, contrarily, he that opens this man's mouth by his powerful word, by the same word shuts it again, charging silence by the same breath wherewith he gave speech ; " Tell no man."
Those tongues, which interceded for his cure, are charmed for the concealment of it. O Saviour, thou knowest the grounds of thine own commands; it is not for us to inquire, but to obey; we may not honour thee with a forbidden celebration. Good meanings have ofttimes proved injurious: those men, whose charity employed their tongues to speak for the dumb man, do now employ the same tongues to speak of his cure, when they should have been dumb. This charge, they imagine, proceeds from an humble modesty in Christ, which the respect to his honour bids them violate. I know not how we itch after those forbidden acts, which, if left to our liberty, we willingly neglect. This prohibition increaseth the rumour: every tongue is busied about this one : what can we make of this but a well-meant disobedience ? O God, I should more gladly publish thy name at thy command. I know thou canst not bid me to dishonour thee: there is no danger of such an injunc
tion: but if thou shouldest bid me to hide the profession of thy name and wondrous works, I should fulfil thy words, and not examine thine intentions. Thou knowest how to win more honour by our silence than by our promulgation. A forbidden good differs little from evil. What makes our actions to be sin but thy prohibitions ? our judgment avails nothing. If thou forbid us that which we think good, it becomes as faulty to theeward, as that which is originally evil. Take thou charge of thy glory, give me grace to take charge of thy precepts.
Now was our Saviour walking towards his passion : his last journey had most wonders. Jericho was in his way from Galilee to Jerusalem : he baulks it not, though it were outwardly cursed ; but, as the first Joshua saved a Rahab there, so there the second saves a Zaccheus ; that a harlot, this a publican. The traveller was wounded as he was going from Jerusalem to Jericho; this man was taken from his Jericho to the true Jerusalem, and was healed. Not as a passenger did Christ walk this way, but as a visitor; not to punish, but to heal. With us, the sick man is glad to send far for the physician; here the physician comes to seek patients, and calls at our door for work. Had not this good Shepherd left the ninety and nine, and searched the desert, the lost sheep had never recovered the fold; had not his gracious frugality sought the lost groat, it had been swept up with the rushes, and thrown out in the dust. Still, O Saviour, dost thou walk through our Jericho: what would become of us, if thou shouldst stay till we seek thee alone ? Even when thou hast found us, how hardly do we follow thee! the work must be all thine: we
shall not seek thee, if thou find us not ; we shall not follow thee, if thou draw us not.
Never didst thou, O Saviour, set one step in vain : wheresoever thou art walking, there is some Zaccheus to be won. As in a drought, when we see some weighty cloud hovering over us, we say there is rain for some grounds, wheresoever it falls: the ordinances of God bode good to some souls, and happy are they on whom it lights.
How justly is Zaccheus brought in with a note of wonder! it is both great and good news to hear of convert. To see men perverted from God to the world, from truth to heresy, from piety to profaneness, is as common as lamentable; every night such stars fall: but to see a sinner come home to God, is both happy and wondrous to men and angels. I cannot blame that philosopher, who, undertaking to write of the hidden miracles of nature, spends most of his discourse upon the generation and formation of man: surely we are “ fearfully and wonderfully made !" But how much greater is the miracle of our spiritual regeneration, that a son of wrath, a child of Satan, should be transformed into the son and heir of the ever-living God! O God, thou workest both ; but in the one our spirit animates us, in the other thine
Yet some things, which have wonder in them for their worth, lose it for their frequence; this hath no less rarity in it than excellence. How many painful Peters have complained to fish all night, and catch nothing! Many professors and few converts hath been ever the lot of the Gospel. God's house, as the streets of Jericho, may be thronged, and yet but one Zaccheus. As therefore in the lottery, when the great prize comes, the trumpet sounds before it ; so the news of a convert is proclaimed, with “Behold Zaccheus.” Any penitent had been worthy of a shout; but this man by an eminence, a publican, a chief of the publicans, rich.
No name under heaven is so odious as this of a publican ; especially to this nation, that stood so high upon their freedom, that every impeachment of it seemed no less than damnable ; in so much as they ask not, Is it fit or needful ? but, “Is it lawful to pay tribute unto Cæsar?" Any office of exaction must needs be heinous to a people so impatient of the yoke: and yet not so much the trade, as the extortion, drew hatred upon this profession ; out of both they are deeply infamous. One while they are matched with heathens, another while with harlots, always with sinners; “And behold Zaccheus, a publican.” We are all naturally strangers from God; the best is indisposed to grace; yet some there are, whose very calling gives them better advantages. But this catchpollship of Zaccheus carried extortion in the face, and, in a sort, bade defiance to his conversion; yet behold, from this tollbooth is called both Zaccheus to be a disciple, and Matthew to be an apostle. in the hand of a cunning workman, that of the knottiest and crookedest timber, can make rafters and ceiling for his own house ; that can square the marble or flint, as well as the freest stone. Who can now plead the disadvantage of his place, when he sees a publican come to Christ? No calling can prejudice God's gracious election.
To excel in evil must needs be worse. If to be a publican be ill, surely to be an arch-publican is more. What talk we of the chief of publicans, when he that professed himself the chief of sinners, is now among the chief of saints? who can despair of mercy when he sees one Jericho send both a harlot and a publican to heaven ?
The trade of Zaccheus was not a greater rub in his way, than his wealth. He that sent word to John for great news, that “The poor receive the Gospel,” said also, “How hard is it for a rich man to enter into heaven !" this bunch of the camel keeps him from passing the needle's eye; although not by any malig