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he had restored fourfold to every one, whom he had oppressed, yet there remained a whole half for pious uses; and this he so distributes that every word commends his bounty :

I give ; and what is more free than gift? In alms, we may neither sell

, nor return, nor cast away. We sell, if we part with them for importunity, for vain-glory, for retribution : we return them, if we give with respect to former offices; this is to pay, not to bestow: we cast away, if in our beneficence we neither regard order nor discretion. Zaccheus did neither cast away, nor return, nor sell, but give :

I do give; not, “ I will.” The prorogation of good makes it thankless. The alms, that smell of the hand, lose the praise. It is twice given, that is given quickly. Those, that defer their gifts till their death-bed, do as good as say, “ Lord, I will give thee something when I can keep it no longer.” Happy is the man, that is his own executor:

I give my goods ; not another's. It is a thankless vanity, to be liberal of another man's purse. Whoso gives of that, which he hath taken away from the owner, doth more wrong,

in giving, than in stealing. God expects our gifts, not our spoils. I fear there is too many a school and hospital, every stone whereof may be challenged. llad Zaccheus meant to give of his extortions, he had not been so careful of his restitution : now he restores to others, that he may give of his own :

I give half my goods : the publican's heart was as large as his estate. He was not more rich in goods than in bounty. Were this example binding, who should be rich, to give? Who should be poor, to receive? In the strait beginnings of the Church, those beneficences were requisite, which afterwards, in the larger elbow-room thereof, would have caused much confusion. If the first Christians laid down all at the apostles' feet, yet, ere long, it was enough for the believing Corinthians, every first day of the week to lay aside some pittance for charitable purposes.

We are no disciples, if we do not imitate Zaccheus, so far as to give liberally, according to the proportion of our estate. Giving is sowing: the larger seeding, the greater crop: Giving to the poor is fæneration to God: the greater bank, the more interest. Who can fear to be too wealthy? Time was, when men faulted in excess: proclamations were fain to restrain the Jews; statutes were fain to restrain our ancestors. Now there needs none of this : : men know how to shut their hands alone. Charity is in more danger of freezing than of burning. How happy were it for the Church, if men were only close-handed to hold, and not lime-fingered to take :

To the poor ; not to rich heirs. God gives to him, that hath ; we, to him, that wants. Some want, because they would; whether out of prodigality, or idleness : some want, because they must ; these are the fit subjects of our beneficence, not those other. A

poverty of our own making, deserves no pity. He, that sustains the lewd, feeds not his belly, but his vice.

So, then, this living legacy of Zaccheus is free, I give ; present, I do give ; just, my goods ; large, half my goods ; fit, to the poor. Neither is he more bountiful in his gift, than just in his resti

on: If I have taken ouyht from any man by false accusation, I restore it fourfold.

It was proper for a publican to pill and pole the subject, by devising complaints, and raising causeless vexations; that his mouth might be stopped with fees, either for silence or composition. This, had Zaccheus often done. Neither is this if a note of doubt, but of assertion. He is sure of the fact; he is not sure of the persons: their challenge must help to further his justice.

The true penitence of this holy convert expresses itself in Confession, in Satisfaction.

His Confession is free, full, open. What cares he to shame himself, that he may give glory to God? Woe be to that bashfulness, that ends in confusion of face. O God, let me blush before men, rather than be confounded before thee, thy saints and angels.

His Satisfaction is no less liberal, than his gift. Had not Zaccheus been careful to pay the debts of his fraud, all had gono to the poor. He would have done that voluntarily, which the young man in the Gospel was bidden to do; and, refusing, went away sorrowful. Now, he knew, that his misgotten gain was not for God's corban : therefore he spares half; not to keep, but to restore. This was the best dish in Zaccheus's good cheer. In vain, had he feasted Christ, given to the poor, confessed his extortions, if he had not made restitution. Woe is me, for the paucity of true converts! There is much stolen goods ; little brought home. Men's hands are like the fishers' flew; yea, liko hell itself: which admits of no return. O God, we can never satisfy Thee; our score is too great, our abilities too little: but if we make not even with men, in vain shall we look for mercy from Thee. To each his own, had been well; but four for one, was munificent. In our transactions of commerce, we do well to beat the bargain to the lowest: but in cases of moral or spiritual payments to God or men, now there must be a measure, pressed, shaken, running over. In good offices and due retributions, we may not be pinching and niggardly. It argues an earthly and ignoble mind, where we have apparently wronged, to higgle and dodge in the amends.

O mercy and justice well repaid! This day, is salvation come to thine house. Lo, Zaccheus, that which thou givest to the poor, is nothing to that, which thy Saviour gives to thee. If thou restorest four for one, here is more than thousands of millions for nothing. Were every of thy pence a world, they could

hold no comparison with this bounty. It is but dross that thou givest: it is Salvation that thou receivest. Thou gavest in present, thou dost not receive in hope; but, This day, is Salvation come to thine house. Thine ill-gotten metals were a strong bar, to bolt heaven's gates against thee; now, that they are dissolved by a seasonable beneficence and restitution, those gates of glory fly open to thy soul. Where is that man, that can challenge God to be in his debt? Who can ever say, “ Lord, this favour I did to the least of thine unrequited ?" Thrice happy publican, that hast climbed from thy sycamore to heaven; and by a few worthless bags of unrighteous mammon, hast purchased to thyself a kingdom incorruptible, unde filed, and that fadeth not away.

.

CONTEMPLATION IV. JOHN BAPTIST

BEHEADED.

MATTHEW XIV.

Three of the Evangelists have, with one pen, recorded the death of the great harbinger of Christ, as most remarkable and useful.

He was the forerunner of Christ, as into the world, so out of it: yea, he, that made way for Christ into the world, made way for the name of Christ into the court of Herod. This Herod Antipas was son to that Herod, who was, and is ever infamous, for the massacre at Bethlehem. Cruelty runs in a blood. The murderer of John, the forerunner of Christ, is well descended of him, who would have murdered Christ, and, for his sake, murdered the infants.

It was late, ere this Herod heard the fame of Jesus ; not till he had taken off the head of John Baptist. The father of this Herod inquired for Christ too soon: this, too late. Great men should have the best intelligence. If they improve it to all other uses, of either frivolous or civil affairs, with neglect of spiritual, their judgment shall be so much more, as their helps and means were greater.

Whether this Herod were taken up with his Arabian wars against Arethas, his father-in-law, or whether he were employed in his journey to Rome, I inquire not ; but if he were at home, I must wonder how he could be so long, without the noise of Christ. Certainly, it was a sign he had a very irreligious court, that none of his followers did so much as report to him the miracles of our Saviour ; who, doubtless, told him many a vain tale the while. One tells him of his brother Philip's discontentment; another relates the news of the Roman court; another, the

angry threats of Arethas; another flatters him with the admiration of his new mistress, and disparagement of the old : no man so much as says, “ Sir, there is a prophet in your kingdom, that doeth wonders.” There was not a man in his country, that had not been astonished with the fame of Jesus ; yea, ali Syria and the adjoining regions rung of it: only Herod's court hears nothing. Miserable is that greatness, which keeps men from the notice of Christ.

How plain is it from hence, that our Saviour kept aloof from the court! The austere and eremitical harbinger of Christ, it seems, preached there oft, and was heard gladly, though at last, to his cost; while our Saviour, who was more sociable, came not there. He sent a message to that Fox, whose den he would not approach : whether it were that he purposely forbore, lest he should give that tyrant occasion to revive and pursue his father's suspicion; or whether, for that he would not so much honour a place, so infamously graceless and disordered ; or whether, by his example, to teach us the avoidance of outward pomp and glory.

Surely, Herod saw him not, till his death ; heard not of him, till the death of John Baptist. And now, his unintelligence was not more strange than his misconstruction; This is John Baptist, whom I beheaded. First, he doubted; then he resolved: he doubted, upon others' suggestions ; upon his own apprehensions, he resolved thus. And though he thought good to set a face on it to strangers, unto whom it was not safe to bewray his fear; yet to his domestics he freely discovered his thoughts; This is John Baptist. The troubled conscience will many a time open that to familiars, which it hides from the eyes of others. Shame and fear meet together in guiltiness.

How could he imagine this to be John? That common conceit of transanimation could have no place here. There could be no transmigration of souls into a grown and well-statured body. That received fancy of the Jews held only in the case of conception and birth; not of full age.

What need we scan this point, when Herod himself professes, He is risen from the dead. He, that was a Jew by profession, and knew the story of Elisha's bones, of the Sareptan's and Shunamite's son, and, in all likelihood, had now heard of our Saviour's miraculous resuscitation of others, might think this power reflected

upon

himself. Even Herod, as bad as he was, believed a resurrection. Lewdness of life and practice may stand with orthodoxy in some main points of religion. Who can doubt of this, when the devils believe and tremble ? Where shall those men appear, whose faces are Christian, but their hearts Sadducees?

Oh the terrors and tortures of a guilty heart! Herod's conscience told him he had offered an unjust and cruel violence to

an innocent; and now he thinks that John's ghost haunts him. Ilad it not been for this guilt of his bosom, why might he not as well have thought, that the same God, whose hand is not shortened, had conferred this power of miracles upon some other? Now, it could be nobody but John, that doth these wonders : “ And how can it be," thinks he,“ but that this revived prophet, who doth these strange things, will be revenged on me for his head? He, that could give himself life, can more easily take mine : how can I

escape

the hands of a now immortal and impassible avenger ?"

A wicked man needs no other tormentor, especially for the sins of blood, than his own heart. Revel, o Herod, and feast, and frolic; and please thyself with dances, and triumphs, and pastimes: thy sin shall be as some Fury, that shall invisibly follow thee, and scourge thy guilty heart with secret lashes, and upon all occasions shall begin thy hell within thee. He wanted not other sins, that yet cried, Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God.

What an honour was done to John in this misprision? While that man lived, the world was apt to think that John was the Christ ; now that John is dead, Herod thinks Christ to be John. God gives to his poor conscionable servants a kind of reverence and high respect, even from those men, that malign them most ; so as they cannot but venerate whom they hate. Contrarily, no wit or power can shield a lewd man from contempt.

John did no miracle in his life; yet now Herod thinks he did miracles in his resurrection ; as supposing that a new supernatural life brought with it a supernatural power. Who can but wonder at the stupid partiality of Herod and these Jews? They can imagine and yield John risen from the dead, that never did miracle, and rose not; whereas Christ, who did infinite miracles, and rose from the dead by his Almighty power, is not yielded by them to have risen. Their over-bountiful misconceit of the servant, is not so injurious, as their niggardly infidelity to the Master. Both of them shall convince and confound them before the face of God. But, ( yet more blockish Herod! Thy conscience affrights thee with John's resurrection, and flies in thy face for the cruel murder of so great a saint; yet, where is thy repentance for so foul a fact? Who would not have expected, that thou shouldest hereupon have humbled thyself for thy sin, and have laboured to make thy peace with God and him? The greater the fame, and power, was of him, whom thou supposedst recovered from thy slaughter, the more should have been thy penitence. Impiety is wont to besot men; and turn them senseless of their own safety and welfare. One would have thought that our first grandsire Adam, when he found his heart to strike him for his disobedience, should have run to meet God upon his knees, and have sued for pardon of his offence : instead of that, he runs

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