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shall have blood to drink: for she is worthy: God will reward her as she hath rewarded others: yea, he will give unto her double for all her sins. Let Christians, therefore, persevere in prayer for this event, which God hath predicted, and commanded them to look for; and at this time especially let them not despair, when so many symptoms appear of its approach. Although accompanied with dreadful evils to a great part of the christian world, as the destruction of Jerusalem was to the Jews, it is still highly desirable. It will be an act of justice upon a cruel and persecuting power, which has deluged the world with blood: it will free the faithful servants of God from unjust oppression; open the way for the progress of truth, and be the era of the improvement and happiness of a great portion of the human race. Let Christians then trust in God for the accomplishment of this event, and pray to him day and night for this purpose.
2. From the account here given of a Pharisee, we learn how ignorant men may be of themselves, and how necessary it is for us to take care that we do not fall into the like delusion. In his own opinion he has no vices or faults with which to reproach himself, and possesses many eminent virtues. He may behold himself with complacency, and approach his Maker with confidence, when it is evident to all eyes but his own that the excellencies for which he values himself are no more than external observances, of no intrinsic worth; that he has overlooked the first principle of genuine goodness, which is humility; and that he is far inferior in the scale of excellence to the tax-gather er whom he contemus. Let us learn from this mistake to distrust all sentiments which tend to give us a favourable opinion of ourselves: it is highly probable that they are ill-founded; for there is no instance in which our judgments are so liable to be corrupted.
3. We see what sentiments become us in approaching the Divine Being; humility and contrition. the parable they are put into the mouth of a Jewish Vol. 2.]
tax-gatherer: a man who belonged to a class of people that lay under a bad name, and who in general deserved it. But they are not less suitable to Christians of the present day, however excellent their characters; who, if they reflect upon the actions of their past lives, will see much to lament, and much that requires forgiveness. Many are the instances in which they have omitted their duty, or performed it negligently; many are the positive offences which they have committed against the laws of heaven, in regard to which they may with propriety adopt the language of the taxgatherer, God be merciful to me a sinner!
Luke xviii. 15-30. corresponds with Matt. xix. 13-29.
xx. 17-19. 29-.
Luke xix. 1–27.
1. And Jesus entered, and passed through Jericho.
2. And behold there was a man, named Zaccheus, which was the chief among the tax-gatherers; and he was rich.
He was the superior officer of the customs at Jericho, and in that situation had acquired wealth.
3. And he sought to see Jesus, who he was, and could not for the press, rather, "from among the multitude," because he was little of stature.
Having heard much of the fame of Jesus, he was very desirous to see his person; and as he could not gratify his curiosity in the streets of Jericho, he ran
before, and placed himself in a situation where there would be nothing to obstruct his sight and disappoint his curiosity.
And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore-tree to see him: for he was to pass that way; rather, by which" i. e. the sycamore-tree, " he was to pass."
5. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste and come down: for to-day I must abide at thy house.
Jesus had never scen Zaccheus before; yet he calls him by his name, and discovers that he is well acquainted with his character: knowing that he would be a welcome guest, he invites himself to his house.
6. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.
He was rejoiced to be honoured with the presence of so distinguished a guest.
7. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.
If we suppose Zaccheus to have been a Jew, we must think that his countrymen were surprised and displeased to see Jesus, who was a prophet, and made pretensions to great sanctity, associate with a man who was infamous by his own vices, or those of persons of his profession. But if the term sinner has the same sense here which we have endeavoured to show that it has in other places, and signifies no more than a Gentile, the cause of their displeasure is obvious, as
well as the reason for Christ's conduct. They were offended to see Jesus going to the house of a Gentile, with whom no Jew would have familiar intercourse; and he was desirous of removing from the minds of his disciples the prejudices which they entertained against Gentiles, as we have seen him to be on former occasions, both by his discourses and actions; and to prepare the way for their admission into the christian church, which was to take place after his resurrection. This supposition appears the more probable, as it is not likely that Christ would take so much pains as he appears to have taken, to remove or soften the prejudices of the Jews against the publicans, if they were in general men of bad moral character.
8. And Zaccheus stood, and said unto the Lord, Behold, master, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, or, " if I have wronged any man in any thing," I restore him fourfold.
Before this visit which he received from Jesus, he became acquainted with his doctrine, particularly with the interesting doctrine of a future life, which filled his mind with so much joy, that as a testimony of his gratitude to the Divine Being, he resolved immediately to give half his substance to the poor; like the first christian converts, whom we read of in the book of Acts, ii. 45. who, we are told, sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. As Zaccheus would naturally reserve enough to himself to live upon, it is evident that what he had unjustly acquired could amount to only a very small part of his property; otherwise, the remainder would not have been sufficient for a subsistence. Some have calculated that had it amounted to an eighth, it must have stripped him of every thing. The inference which this consideration suggests is,
that in the preceding part of his life he had conducted himself with great equity in his profession, although he had acquired wealth in it: yet as he found that the laws of Christ required the strictest attention to justice, and as it was possible that he might have transgressed its sacred rules in a profession so exposed to temptation as that of a publican, he was willing to make the best atonement for his offences that he was able, by ample restitution. To restore fourfold for whatever had been fraudulently taken away, was a punishment inflicted in certain cases both by the Jewish and Roman law. Exod. xxii. 1,
9. And Jesus said unto him, rather, "concerning him," This day is salvation come to this house, for as much as he also is a son of Abraham.
To-day the belief of the gospel, the means of salvation, is come to this house: for this tax-gatherer, although no descendent of Abraham by birth, yet deserves to be reckoned among his children, on account of his ready faith.
10. For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
These words are intended as a reply to the Jews, who murmured when they saw him going to visit a sinner, or a Gentile. This he justifies by saying that to visit such persons, was perfectly consistent with the design of his mission; inasmuch as he came to call men to repentance, and thus to save them from the fatal consequences of their sins.
11. And as they heard these things, he added, and spake a parable; because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
* See Macknight in loc.