Page images
[ocr errors]

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 it means by forgiveness, and also what it means by repentance. Let our repentance be as full, as unreserved, as immediate as that of Zacchæus, and this day, yea, this hour, is salvation come into our house, and it is proved that we also are sons of Abraham.

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 Zacchæus did, yet He says to us all, “ To-day 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 is 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 to 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 us, we answer Him respectfully, “ Master, say

We hear His word, we listen to it, we admire it ; it is very pure, 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 understand 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 forgiven, 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 thein. And yet it may be that we do not receive Him with the true penitence of Zacchæus, 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 Zacchæus, and like Mary; first like the one, then like the other. First, like Zacchæus : Christ is come to us, but 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 Zacchæus, and consider, as he did, the sins and temptations of our general life, and those also of our particular calling. In the former respect, we are for the most part as he

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 Zacchæus, 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, something, 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 ne was called upon to do so. But surely 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,—our hearts too surely tell us,—that we have not probed them to the bottom? We have not opened them wholly to Christ: all their evil has not been abandoned ; all their best has not been offered.


I hardly dare go on to dwell on the blessed state of those who, having once received Christ like Zacchæus, 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. Not indeed that they sit still in the literal sense ; they are not idle, not indolent, not inactive, but contented and peaceful. Their bodies are at work, 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 ?

Zacchæus' 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 off utterly; even as He also will cast it off, 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.


March 8th, 1835.

« PreviousContinue »