« AnteriorContinuar »
beyond his thought or expectation; all his hope is to see, and now he is seen: to be seen and acknowledged, is much more than to see. Upon any solemn occasion many thousands see the prince whom he sees not; and, if he please to single out any one, whether by his eye or by his tongue, amongst the press, it passes for a high favour. Zaccheus would have thought it too much boldness to have asked what was given him. As Jonathan did to David, so doth God to us, he shoots beyond us; did he not prevent us with mercy, we might climb into the sycamore in vain. If he give grace to him that doth his best, it is the praise of the Giver, not the earning of the receiver: how can we do or will without him ? if he see us first, we live; and if we desire to see him, we shall be seen of him. Who ever took pains to climb the sycamore, and came down disappointed? O Lord, what was there in Zaccheus, that thou shouldst look up
at him ? a publican, a sinner, an arch-extortioner; a dwarf in stature, but a giant in oppression; a little man, but a great sycophant; if rich in coin, more rich in sins and treasures of wrath: yet it is enough that he desires to see thee; all these disadvantages cannot hide him from thee. Be we never so sinful, if our desires towards thee be hearty and fervent, all the broad leaves of the sycamore cannot keep off thine eye from us. If we look at thee with the eye of faith, thou wilt look at us with the eye of mercy; “The eye of the Lord is upon the just,” and he is just that would be so : if not in himself, yet in thee. 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 upon us; thy mercy turns thine eyes every way towards our necessities. Look down upon us that are not worthy to look up unto thee, and find us out, that we may seek thee.
It was much to note Zaccheus, it was more to name him. Methinks I see how Zaccheus startled at this, to hear the sound of his own name from the mouth of Christ;
neither can he but think, Doth Jesus know me? is it his voice or some other's in the throng ? lo, this is the first sight that ever I had of him. I have heard the fame of his wonderful works, and held it happiness enough for me to have seen his face ; and doth he take notice of my person, of my name? Surely the more that Zaccheus knew himself, the more doth he wonder that Christ should know him. It was slander enough for a man to be a friend to a publican; yet Christ gives this friendly compellation to the chief of publicans, and honours him with this argument of a sudden entireness. The favour is great, but not singular; every elect of God is thus graced: the Father knows the child's name ; as he calls the stars of heaven by their names, so doth he his saints, the stars on earth; and it is his own rule to his Israel. “I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine." As God's children do not content themselves with a confused knowledge of him, but aspire to a particular apprehension and sensible application, so doth God again to them: it is not enough that he knows them, as in the crowd, (wherein we see many persons, none distinctly,) but he takes single and several knowledge of their qualities, conditions, motions, events. What care we that our names are obscure or contemned amongst men, whilst they are regarded by God; that they are raked up in the dust of earth, while they are recorded in heaven!
Had our Saviour said no more, but, “ Zaccheus, come down,” the poor man would have thought himself taxed for his boldness and curiosity ; it were better to be unknown, than noted for miscarriage. But now the next words comfort him ; “For I must this day abide at thine house." What a sweet familiarity was here; as if Christ had been many years acquainted with Zaccheus, whom he now first saw! Besides our use, the host is invited by the guest, and called to an unexpected entertainment. Well did our Saviour hear Zaccheus, his heart inviting him, though his mouth did not : desires are the language of the soul, those are heard by him that is the God of spirits.
We dare not do thus to each other, save where we have eaten much salt: we scarce go where we are invited; though the face be friendly, and the entertainment great, yet the heart may be hollow. But here, he that saw the heart, and foreknew his welcome, can boldly say, “I must this day abide at thine house." What a pleasant kind of entire familiarity there is betwixt Christ and a good heart! “If any man open,
I will come in and sup with him.” 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 upon him in sitting alone. No, “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 infinite 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 thy 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.
How graciously doth Jesus still prevent the publican, as in his sight, notice, compellation, so in his invitation too! That other publican, Levi, bade Christ to his house, but it was after Christ had bidden him to his discipleship. Christ had never been called to his feast, if Levi had not been called into his family. He loved us first, he must first call us ; for he calls us out of love. As in the general calling of Christianity, if he did not say, "Seek ye my face,” we could never say, “ Thy face, Lord, will I seek :” so, in the specialities of our main benefits or employments, Christ must begin to us. If we invite ourselves to him, before he invite himself to us, the undertaking is presumptuous, the success unhappy.
If Nathanael, when Christ named him, and gave him the memorial token of his being under the figtree, could say, “Thou art the Son of God ;" how could Zaccheus do less in hearing himself upon this wild fig-tree named by the same lips? How must he needs think, if he knew not all things, he could not know me; and if he knew not the hearts of men, he could not have known my secret desires to entertain him! He is a God that knows me, and a merciful God that invites himself to me: no marvel therefore, if, upon this thought, Zaccheus come down in haste. Our Saviour said not, Take thy leisure, Zaccheus, but, "I will abide at thine house to-day.” Neither did Zaccheus, upon this intimation, sit still and say, When the press
when I have done some errands of my office; but he hastes down to receive Jesus. The notice of such a guest would have quickened his speed without a command ; God loves not slack and lazy executions. 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! Certainly had Zaccheus stayed still in the tree, thou. hadst baulked his house as unworthy of thee. What construction canst thou make of our wilful dilations, but as a stubborn contempt ? how canst thou but come to us in vengeance, if we come not down to entertain thee in a thankful obedience ?
Yet do I not hear thee say, Zaccheus, cast thyself down for haste (this was the counsel of the tempter to thee), but, “ Come down in haste," and he did accordingly. There must be no more haste than good speed in our performances; we may offend as well in our heady acceleration, as in our delay. Moses ran so fast down the hill, that he stumbled spiritually, and brake the tables of God: we may so fast follow after justice, that we outrun charity. It is an unsafe obedience that is not discreetly and leisurely speedful.
The speed of his descent was not more than the alacrity of his entertainment: “He made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.” The life of hospitality is cheerfulness : let our cheer be never so great, if we do not read our welcome in our friend's face, as well as in his dishes, we take no pleasure in it.
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! How many thousand miles are measured by some devout Christians, only to see the place where his feet stood ! how much happier must he needs think himself, that owns the roof that receives him! But oh 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 be not straitened in our own bowels. O Saviour, do thou welcome thyself to these houses of clay, that we may receive a joyful welcome to thee in those everlasting habitations.
Zaccheus was not more glad of Christ than the Jews were discontented. Four vices met here at once, envy, scrupulousness, ignorance, pride: their eye was evil because Christ's was good. I do not hear any of them invite Christ to his home, yet they snarl at the honour of this unworthy host; they thought it too much happiness for a sinner, which themselves willingly neglected to sue for. Wretched men! they cannot see the mercy of Christ, for being bleared with the happiness of Zaccheus; yea, that very mercy which they see torments them. If that