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from each other. So, then, the disciples of John are become the disciples of Jesus ; but the disciples of Jesus still preach, not alone certainly, yet they must preach it, the baptism of John. Every minister of Christ is a minister of two things, repentance and faith; and either of these without the other avails not. And as every minister of Christ is a minister of repentance and faith, so every member of Christ must keep these two things together for his own salvation. If he asks, Why is my faith so weak? is it not that his repentance has been and is deficient, that the way of the Lord is not kept duly prepared, that the ground is not cleared and levelled for the foundations of His holy temple, and that therefore it cannot be built? We should all of us think more of this : those of us whose lives man's judgment dare not do otherwise than approve, those of us who understand and admire the revelations of God in Christ Jesus, to whom reading the Scriptures, and exercises of prayer and praise, are any thing but unwelcome; even these may feel sometimes that their faith is weak, and may confess, if they examine themselves, that repentance has not its due place in their religion. I am not speaking of repentance for some great and manifest sin. It may be that we have not committed any such ; but of repentance for the manifold faults and unworthiness of our lives, for falling so far short of God's perfect law not in our practice merely, but even in our very principles. It is not an idle lesson which our church service teaches us, when it begins with a solemn confession of sins. It is easy to repeat this over from mere habit, without thinking of it. It may be, too, that some of its expressions may be stronger than we may think applicable to every single individual. But the thought of having left undone things which we ought to have done, and having done things which we ought not to have done, and that therefore there is in ourselves no health; that is, that we dare not meet God's judgment as men entitled to be acquitted by it—this is a thought which I am sure should be present to our minds whenever we come before God, and which we should earnestly labour to cherish, and to strengthen its sincerity. For indeed, if we do look into ourselves fairly, the thought will not be affected, but most sincere. It is because we do not examine ourselves carefully to see how much is really amiss in us, that expressions of repentance seem exaggerated, and so we use them without meaning. But the more we do examine, the more we shall see ourselves as we are ; and then we shall be anxious to do away with some of our many evils, to be prepared in some measure for Christ's forgiveness. Then we shall go on more steadily to follow the full leading of His Spirit, till virtues, of which now we scarcely conceive, may become familiar to our minds; and it will be as sincere a matter of repentance to have failed in them, as it can now be to us to have neglected the commonest duty, or have committed the commonest sins.
SERMON X V.
ST. LUKE xix. 9.
This day is salvation come unto this house, for so much as he also
is a son of Abraham.
THESE words were spoken of Zacchæus, whose story, mentioned by St. Luke alone among the four Evangelists, was read in the second lesson for this morning's service. Although it is in its principal points in exact agreement with other passages in the Gospels, equally relating to our Lord's treatment of sinners, yet I do not know that the whole view of the Gospel forgiveness of sins is anywhere more fully given than in this particular case, and it is for this reason that I wished to make it the subject of our consideration this day.
Zacchæus was a chief among the publicans, and rich. I need not say that by publicans are meant farmers of the taxes; that is to say, not simple collectors of taxes, whose business it is merely to collect from different individuals a certain sum fixed by the law, and which they, having collected it, then pay over into the hands of other officers appointed to receive it : not tax-gatherers or tax-collectors in the present sense of the word ; but farmers of the taxes, men who made it a trade or speculation, first paying to the government a certain sum, and then being empowered to repay themselves, and to make their own profit, by getting as much as they could from the people. Having thus a direct interest in the collection, they were not only watchful to exact to the utmost every thing which might legally be demanded; but, as the times were bad, and the law not always strong enough to protect the poor, they often frightened persons into paying more than was due, by the terror of bringing false or frivolous accusations against them if they did not comply with the publican's extortions. Accordingly, they became so generally odious, that they are, as we know, represented as one of the worst classes of men ; so unprincipled that it was a discredit to any respectable person to mix with them in society.
A calling in such ill repute as the publican's, and abounding in so many temptations, must have been highly unfavourable to any man's virtue. If a disgraceful mark be fixed upon any business or calling in life, men of the best sort are apt to avoid this calling, and it gets filled chiefly with the worst.