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common workings of a few transient convictions, floating upon the surface of your hearts. Beg of God that you may be sincere (for he alone can make you so) and that you may indeed desire the promise of the text to be fulfilled in your souls. Who knows but the Lord may be gracious ? Remember you have no plea but sovereign mercy; but for your encouragement also, remember it is the world, such as you are, to whom the Comforter is to come, and whom he is to convince. Wait therefore at Wisdom's gates. The bare probability of having a door of mercy opened, is enough to keep you striving. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, the chief of them. You know not but he came to save you. Do not go and quarrel with God's decrees, and say, if I am a reprobate, I shall be damned ; if I am elected, I shall be saved ; and therefore I will do nothing. What have you to do with God's decrees?
ret things belong to him; it is your business to give "all diligence to make your calling and election sure.” If there are but few who find the way that leads to life, do you strive to be some of them. You know not but you may be in the number of those few, and that your striving may be the means which God intends to bless, to give you an entrance in. If you do not act thus, you are not sincere; and, if you do, who knows but you may find mercy ? For though after you have done all that you can, God may justly cut you off, yet never was a single person damned who did all that he could. Though therefore your hands are withered, stretch them out; though you are impotent, sick, and lame, come lie at the pool. Who knows but by and by, the Lord Jesus may have compassion on you, and send the Comforter to convince you of sin, righteousness, and of judgment ? He is a God full of compassion and longsuffering, otherwise you and I had been long since lifting up our eyes in torments. But still he is patient with us !
o Christless sinners, you are alive, and who knows but God intends to bring you to repentance ? Could my prayers or tears affect it, you should have volleys of the one, and floods of the other. My heart is touched with a sense of your condition. May our merciful High Priest now send down the Comforter and make you sensible of it also ! O the love of Christ! It constrains me to beseech you to come to him; what do you reject, if you reject Christ, the Lord of glory! Sinners, give the dear Redeemer a lodging in your souls. Do not be Bethshemites ; give Christ your hearts, your whole hearts. Indeed he is worthy. He made you and not you yourselves. You are not your own; give Christ then your bodies and souls, which are his! Is it not enough to melt you down, to think that the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity,
And yet I
should condescend to invite you by his ministers? How soon can he frown you to hell! And how know you but he may this very instant, if you do not hear his voice? Did any yet harden their hearts against Christ, and prosper? Come then, do not send me sorrowful away; do not let me have reason to cry out, “O my leanness, my leanness!" Do not let me go weeping into my closet, and say, “Lord they will not believe my report; Lord, I have called them, and they will not answer; I am unto them as a very pleasant song, and as one that plays upon a pleasant instrument; but their hearts are running after the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.” Would you be willing that I should give such an account of you, or make such a prayer before God? must not only do so here, but appear in judgment against you hereafter, unless you will come to Christ. Once more, therefore, I entreat you to come. What objections have you to make ? Behold, I stand here in the name of God, to answer all that you can offer. But I know no one can come, unless the Father draw him. I will therefore address me to my God, and intercede with him to send the Comforter into your hearts.
O blessed Jesus, who art a God whose compassions fail not, and in whom all the promises are yea and amen; thou that sittest between the cherubims, show thyself amongst us. Let us now see thy outgoings ! O let us now taste that thou art gracious, and reveal thy almighty arm! Get thyself the victory in these poor sinners' hearts. Let not the word spoken prove like water spilt upon the ground. Send down, send down, O great High Priest, the Holy Spirit, to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. So will we give thanks and praise to thee O Father, thee O Son, and thee 0 blessed Spirit; to whom as three Persons, but one God, be ascribed, by angels and archangels, by cherubim and seraphim, and all the heavenly hosts, all possible power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen, Amen, Amen.
THE CONVERSION OF ZACCHEUS.
Luke xix. 9, 10
And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house,
forasmuch as he also is the son of Abraham. For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
SALVATION, every where through the whole scripture, is said to be free gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Not only free, because God is a sovereign agent, and therefore may withhold it from, or confer it on, whom he pleaseth; but free, because there is nothing to be found in man, that can any way induce God to be merciful unto him. The righteousness of Jesus Christ is the sole cause of our finding favor in God's sight. This righteousness, apprehended by faith, (which is also the gift of God) makes it our own; and this faith, if true, will work by love.
These are parts of those glad tidings which are published in the gospel; and of the certainty of them, next to the express word of God, the experience of all such as have been saved, is the best, and as I take it, the most undoubted proof. That God might teach us every way, he has been pleased to leave upon record many instances of the power of his grace exerted in the salvation of several persons, that we hearing how he dealt with them, might thence infer the manner we must expect to be dealt with ourselves, and learn in what way we must look for salvation, if we truly desire to be made partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light.
The conversion of the person referred to in the text, I think will be of no small service to us in this matter, if rightly improved. I would hope, most of you know who the person is, to whom the Lord Jesus speaks; it is the publican Zaccheus, to whose house the blessed Jesus said, salvation came, and whom he pronounces a son of Abraham.
It is my design (God helping) to make some remarks upon his conversion recorded at large in the preceding verses, and then to enforce the latter part of the text, as an encouragement to poor undone sinners to come to Jesus Christ. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
The evangelist Luke introduces the account of this man's conversion thus, ver. 1. "And Jesus entered and passed through
Jericho." The holy Jesus made it his business to go about doing good. As the sun in the firmament is continually spreading his benign, quickening, and cheering influences over the natural; so the Sun of Righteousness arose with healing under his wings, and was daily and hourly diffusing his gracious influences over the moral world. The preceding chapter acquaints us of a notable miracle wrought by the holy Jesus on poor blind Bartimeus : and in this, a greater presents itself to our consideration. The evangelist would have us take par. ticular notice of it; for he introduces it with the word behold: “ And behold, there was a man named Zaccheus, who was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.”
Well might the evangelist usher in the relation of this man's conversion with the word behold! For, according to human judgment, how many insurmountable obstacles lay in the way of it! Surely no one will say there was any fitness in Zaccheus for salvation ; for we are told that he was a publican, and therefore in all probability a notorious sinner. The publicans were gatherers of the Roman taxes; they were infamous for their abominable extortion ; their very name therefore became so odious, that we find the pharisees often reproached our Lord, as very wicked, because he was a friend unto and sat down to meat with them. Zaccheus then, being a publican, was no doubt a sinner; and, being chief among the publicans, consequently was chief among sinners. Nay, he was rich. And one inspired apostle has told us, " that not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” Another saith, “God has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith.” And he who was the Maker and the Redeemer of the apostles, assures us, “that it is easier for a camel (or a cable rope) to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Let not therefore the rich glory in the multitude of their riches.
But rich as he was, we are told, verse 3, that “he sought to see Jesus.” And that was a wonder indeed! The common people heard our Lord gladly, and the poor received the gospel. The multitude, the very mob, the people that knew not the law, as the proud high priests called them, used to follow him on foot into the country, and sometimes stayed with him three days together to hear him preach. But did the rich believe or attend on him ? No. Our Lord preached up the doctrine of the cross; he preached too searching for them, and therefore they counted him their enemy, persecuted and spoke all manner of evil against him falsely. Let not the ministers of Christ mar . vel, if they meet with the like treatment from the rich men of this wicked and adulterous generation. I should think it no scandal (supposing it true) to hear it affirmed, that none but
the poor attended my ministry. Their souls are as precious to our Lord Jesus Christ, as the souls of the greatest men. They were the poor that attended him in the days of his flesh. These are they whom he hath chosen to be rich in faith, and to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Were the rich in this world's goods generally to speak well of me, wo be unto me; I should think it a dreadful sign that I was only a wolf in sheep's clothing, that I spoke peace, peace, wlien there was no peace, and prophesied smoother things than the gospel would allow of. Hear ye this, O ye rich. Let who will dare to do it, God forbid that I should despise the poor ; in doing so, 1 should reproach my Maker. The poor are dear to my soul : I rejoice to see them fly to the doctrine of Christ, like the doves to their windows. I only pray that the poor who attend, may be evangelized, and turned into the spirit of the gospel ; if
so, blessed are ye; for yours is the kingdom of heave
But we must return to Zaccheus. He sought to see Jesus. That is good news. I heartily wish I could say, it was out of a good principle. But, without speaking contrary to that charity which hopeth and believeth all things for the best, we may say, that the same principle drew him after Christ, which now draws multitudes (to speak plainly, it may be multitudes of you) to hear a particular preacher, even curiosity. For we are told, that he came not to hear his doctrine, but to view his person, or to use the words of the evangelist, " to see who he
Our Lord's fame was now spread abroad through all Jerusalem, and all the country round about. Some said he was a good man ; others, nay, but he deceiveth the people. And therefore curiosity drew out this rich publican, “Zaccheus" to see who this person was, of whom he had heard such various accounts. But it seems he could not conveniently get a sight of him for the press, and because he was little of stature. Alas ! how many are kept from seeing Christ in glory, by reason of the
many are ashamed of being singularly good, and therefore follow a multitude to do evil, because they have a press or throng of polite acquaintance ! And, for fear of being set at naught by those with whom they used to sit at meat, they deny the Lord of glory, and are ashamed to confess him before men. This base, this servile fear of man, is the bane of true Christianity; it brings a dreadful snare upon the soul, and is the ruin of ten thousands. For I am fully persuaded, numbers are rationally convicted of gospel truths; but, not being able to brook contempt, they will not prosecute their convictions, nor reduce them to practice. Happy those, who, in this respect, at least, like Zaccheus, resolve to overcome all impediments that lie in their way to a