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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Luke 19

 

 

Verse 9

DISCOURSE: 1560

THE CONVERSION OF ZACCHEUS

Luke 19:9. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house.

IT is said of our blessed Lord, that “he went about doing good.” But the good which he did was principally to the bodies of men; the work of converting and saving their souls was to be carried on principally after his death by the instrumentality of his Apostles. There were, however, some instances, wherein he wrought effectually to the conversion of men’s souls. At the time of his death, the number of his Disciples amounted to about five hundred. Amongst that happy number was Zaccheus, of whose conversion we are informed in the passage before us.

Zaccheus was a rich Publican, or tax-gatherer: having heard much of the fame of Jesus, he was desirous to see him; but, being small of stature, he could not easily accomplish his wish: he therefore ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore-tree, near which Jesus was about to pass; and thus secured the desired gratification. But, to his utter surprise, Jesus called him down from the tree, invited himself as a guest to his house, and, as the event proved, converted and saved his soul.

Now in this history we see,

I. In what way salvation is imparted—

Doubtless there is a great diversity in the experience of different people: some are called to the knowledge of Christ more suddenly, others more gradually; some with deeper convictions of their guilt and danger, and others in a more easy and placid way: but in some things all are agreed: to whomsoever salvation comes, it is in the first instance,

1. Unmerited—

[It is evident that Zaccheus did not merit salvation: he was an unjust and oppressive man; and though he might not deserve such opprobrium as the Jews cast upon him, as though he were the vilest of characters, yet it is plain, from his own acknowledgment, that he had availed himself of the power vested in him by the Romans, to extort more than by the laws he was entitled to; and he had thereby considerably augmented his own wealth. But if no such conduct could have been imputed to him, yet must salvation have been to him an unmerited gift: for, as sinners, we all deserve the wrath of God: and they who deserve his wrath, certainly cannot deserve his favour. “If we had done all that is commanded us, we should still be unprofitable servants;” and therefore we must for ever renounce all idea of merit, and look for salvation as the free gift of God in Christ Jesus.]

2. Unsolicited—

[We read not of any application that Zaccheus made to Jesus: on the contrary, Jesus prevented him with the blessings of his goodness. It is thus with all of us in the first communication of grace to the soul: as the prophet says, “I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not.” I do not say, that, when grace is imparted to the soul, we shall not pray: for we certainly shall wait upon God in fervent supplication; and on this is suspended all our hope of divine blessings: “we must ask, and seek, and knock, if we would have the door of mercy opened to us.” But this, I say, that, in the first instance, previously to the communication of divine grace to the soul, we do not pray for it: but God imparts it of his own mind and will. We are like Lazarus in the grave, till God speaks the word, and says, Come forth: nor do we ever begin to pray, till God of his own grace and mercy has given us “a spirit of grace and of supplication.”]

3. Unthought of—

[Zaccheus’ mind was as much as ever set upon his wealth; and his only view in wishing to see Jesus, was to gratify his curiosity. Nothing was further from his thoughts than the idea of becoming a stated follower of Christ, and an heir of his salvation. Thus does God still “bring the blind by away that they know not, and lead them in paths that they have not known.” By his Providence he leads persons into such situations and circumstances as shall be favourable for the communication of his grace. Little did Zaccheus imagine what would be the result of his climbing up into the tree, or what God intended, when he inclined his mind to adopt such a measure for the gratifying of his curiosity: and little do many think, when God leads them to this or that place, or visits them with this or that affliction, what the issue of it will be: but God, who sees the end from the beginning, so orders all events, that the purposes of his grace towards his chosen people may be accomplished.

That this is a just view of the subject we cannot doubt, when we are told, that “God is the Author and Giver of every good and perfect gift;” and “that he gives us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” If holy desires and purposes originated first with ourselves, we should have whereof to glory: but since the first desire after salvation is no less the gift of God than salvation itself, the whole praise of it, from first to last, must be given to God alone.

In this part of our subject we wish not to be misunderstood: we do not say, that the parallel between Zaccheus and others holds good in the suddenness of his conversion: for though God may convert persons as suddenly now, as he did in the days of old we apprehend that conversion in these days is, for the most part, gradual and progressive. But, with respect to the first imparting of the divine life to the soul, we conceive that there is no difference between him and us: it is alike in all cases, unmerited, unsolicited, unthought of.]

The resemblance between his salvation and ours may be yet further seen,

II. In the manner in which it operates—

Exceeding different were the effects produced,

1. On the receiver—

[No sooner had the grace of Christ wrought effectually on the heart of Zaccheus, than he approved himself indeed to be a child of Abraham.

Behold the change wrought in him in reference to Christ. Before, he had no regard for Christ: but now he came down gladly, and received him joyfully to his house, and accounted an intercourse with him as the most desirable of all blessings. See the change also in reference to his fellow-creatures. Before, he had disregarded all the duties both of justice and mercy; and now he set himself to the diligent performance of them. Had he wronged any person, either by false accusation, or in any other way? he would now make restitution even four-fold, or to the utmost demands of the law [Note: Exodus 22:1.]. Had he overlooked the necessities of the poor? he would, from this moment, consecrate to their service one half of his possessions.

Here we see the invariable effects of grace upon the soul: it will change all our dispositions and conduct: it will make us to delight ourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to desire above all things the advancement of his glory. It will make us also to fill up in a very different way our duties in society. Instead of leaving us under the influence of covetous practices and selfish passions, it will cause us to seek our happiness in diffusing happiness around us: it will never suffer us to rest till we have made restitution to all whom we may have injured, and to undo (as far as possible) all the evil we have done; and it will lead us to do in all things as we would in a change of circumstances have others do to us.]

2. On the beholders—

[One would have supposed, that, on seeing such a change wrought on a notorious sinner, all who beheld it should magnify the grace of Christ, and admire his condescension to one who was so generally detested. But the spectators were filled rather with spleen and envy; and took occasion to pour contempt on Zaccheus, on account of his past character, and to murmur against Jesus for going to be a guest with him. It was thus that the elder brother in the parable was indignant at his father’s reception of the Prodigal Son: he would not so much as own him for a brother: but said to his father, “Thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as soon as this thy son was come, who hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.” And thus it is whenever any conversion takes place, especially among the profligate, and still more if they be rich; it is always made by the proud Pharisee an occasion of pouring contempt on the converts themselves, and of venting his indignation against the Gospel of Christ. Thus is the very grace of Christ, no less than the exhibition of it in the Gospel, “a savour of life unto life to some, and to others a savour of death unto death.”]

Observations—

1. How desirable it is to be found attending on God’s ordinances—

[It is there, if we may so speak, that Jesus passes by; and there that we may expect to get a sight of him. But when he will be pleased to reveal himself to us, we know not. This however we know, that, whensoever that blessed event shall take place, it will richly repay us for all the efforts we have made. That difficulties may sometimes lie in our way, is probable enough; but we should not too easily yield to them. The difficulty that presented itself to Zaccheus, was real: he was small of stature, and could not get a sight of Jesus for “the press” that surrounded him. But this put him on the use of an expedient, by which he succeeded. So we, if we were intent upon it, might often overcome the obstacles that oppose our attendance on divine ordinances. There is “a press” of company or of business that obstructs our way: but we may run away from it, or go before it, or by various means avoid it: and, if we are in earnest to get a sight of him, we may reasonably hope that he will not suffer us to be disappointed. Many who have come hither from no better motive than, curiosity, have found salvation unexpectedly brought home to their souls: how much more may this blessed effect be hoped for, if we come to seek salvation itself! Let us hope then, that this is the day appointed in the Divine counsels for the communication of life to our souls: and that the grace which triumphed so gloriously in the conversion of Zaccheus, shall now be magnified towards us. If only our souls be willing to receive Christ, we are authorized to say, “This is the day” Nay, more; the very thing which was imputed to him as a fault, he will do again, as often as he is invited; “he will come and be — — — guest with a man that is a sinner.”]

2. How happy are they to whose conversion the ordinances are made effectual—

[That very day and hour that the soul is converted unto God “salvation” comes to it: and who can ever justly appreciate the import of that word? To speak of salvation in its full extent, would lead us too far. View it only in its present effects.

How happy was Zaccheus rendered in his own soul! From that moment his heart was filled with joys to which he had been before an utter stranger. Now he felt that “peace of God which passeth all understanding,” that “joy that is unspeakable and glorified” — — — Many would have envied him as a rich sinner: but his state was far more enviable when he was a saint, and stripped of half his wealth, or even if he had lost the whole that he possessed.

What a source of happiness also did he now become to all around him! To “his house,” as well as to himself, did “salvation come:” for who would receive it in his own soul, and not endeavour to communicate it to all connected with him? — — — To them also who transacted business with him did the benefit extend. He would no longer oppress them, as he had formerly done, but act agreeably to the dictates of strict justice. He would sooner lose all his gains, and be reduced to poverty, than enrich himself by extortion. And what a comfort arose to the poor! These had derived but little good hitherto from his opulence: but henceforth they were sure to find him the kindest friend. At one single gift, the half of his property was consecrated to their relief; and doubtless they would, together with pecuniary aid, receive from him also the benefit of his advice.

Behold, then, what happiness resulted from this one instance of conversion! Doubtless, the angels in heaven rejoiced at it: and well may every such change be a ground of praise and thanksgiving to all who behold it. Let proud Pharisees “murmur,” if they will: but let us bless God for every such communication of his grace, and pray that such converts may be multiplied throughout the world.]


Verse 10

DISCOURSE: 1561

THE END FOR WHICH THE SON OF MAN CAME

Luke 19:10. The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

ONE would imagine that all should be pleased with the conversion of notorious sinners: but it too often excites indignation rather than pleasure in the breasts of proud Pharisees. Zaccheus was a tax-gatherer, and most probably, like the rest in that line, was addicted to rapacity and extortion, though, perhaps, not in so great a degree as some others. He having a curiosity to see Jesus, and not being able, on account of the smallness of his stature, ran before, and climbed up into a tree near which Jesus was about to pass. Our blessed Lord in an instant converted his soul; and, calling him down from the tree, went home to dine with him. This, it seems, gave great offence to the Pharisees, who could not endure to see such a distinguishing favour conferred on so worthless a character. But our Lord vindicated his own conduct, by alleging that, however sinful Zaccheus might be, he was a descendant of Abraham; and that the very intent of his own advent in the flesh, was to seek and to save that which was lost.

To elucidate these comfortable words, we shall shew,

I. Who this Son of man is—

This, to those who beheld him in the flesh, was no easy matter to determine [Note: When he spoke of his approaching crucifixion, and yet of drawing all men to himself, his hearers could not conceive how such opposite things could be affirmed of the same person, the one indicating him to be a man, the other to be a God. Hence they ask him, “Who is this Son of man?” John 12:32-34.]: but to us it is clear as the light. Let us consult,

1. What Jesus has said of himself—

[He tells us that “the Son does whatsoever the Father does;” “quickens whom he will, even as the Father does;” “has all judgment committed to him;” is to be “honoured even as the Father is; yea, that the Father is not honoured unless he also be honoured:” that he will “raise the dead by his voice:” that he “hath life in himself even as the Father has;” and “has authority to execute judgment also, because he is the son of man [Note: John 5:19-27.].” Here he calls himself “the Son,” “the Son of God,” “the Son of man,” evidently shewing, that these different names were of the same import, and that, notwithstanding he was a man, he possessed, and exercised, a divine power.

He speaks of the Son of man as existing in heaven before his incarnation [Note: John 6:62.], before the world was made [Note: John 17:5.], and even while, in his human nature, he was on earth [Note: John 3:13.].

He declared that the Son of man had a power to dispense with the Sabbath [Note: Mark 2:28.], and even to forgive sins [Note: Luke 5:20-24.]; and when accused of being guilty of blasphemy for arrogating such power to himself, he reasserted his claim to that divine prerogative, and wrought a miracle in confirmation of it. Finally, he foretold that “the Son of man would come again in his own glory, with his holy angels [Note: Matthew 25:31.]:” and he bade his Disciples “watch and pray, that they might be worthy to stand before the Son of man [Note: Luke 21:36.].”

Put these words into the mouth of Peter, or Paul, or any creature, however exalted, and they will appear arrogant, and blasphemous, in the extreme.]

2. What his Disciples have said of him—

[The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, “When God bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith, Let all the angels of God worship him:” and again, “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever;” and again, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the Son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little (or, for a little time) lower than the angels [Note: Hebrews 1:6; Hebrews 1:8; Hebrews 2:6-7.].” What can all this mean, but that he was infinitely superior to angels in his pre-existent state, but was made lower than them for a little while, for the great purposes of our redemption?

But St. Peter speaks in terms that cannot well be misunderstood. Our Lord put this question to his Disciples; “Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? And they said, Some say thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, some Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord immediately replied, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven [Note: Matthew 16:13-17].” Now, if Peter meant only to say that he was a good man, or a prophet, what was there in that which he might not see and know without any particular revelation of it to his soul?

St. Stephen is yet more strong and decisive: for when he was “full of the Holy Ghost,” he said, “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God:” upon which his hearers, filled with indignation, stoned him, calling upon God, and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit [Note: Acts 7:56; Acts 7:59.].” Now is it not utterly unaccountable, that a man full of the Holy Ghost, when favoured with a vision of God, and of Jesus standing at the right hand of God, should, in the very hour of death, address himself to Jesus, and not unto the Father, and that too almost in the very words that Jesus himself had used when addressing his heavenly Father, if Jesus were not higher than any created being? If he did not see that the Son of man was also the Son of God, yea, “God over all, equal with the Father, he was deservedly stoned to death, as the vilest blasphemer that ever lived upon the earth.

Who can see the Disciples of our Lord paying him such honour, and doubt what ideas they annexed to that lowly title, “the Son of man?”]

3. What his enemies said of him—

[There can be no doubt but that they understood the terms “Son of man,” and, “Son of God,” to be equivalent, and that, when used in their highest sense, they denoted equality with God himself. When our Lord stood before the supreme council of the Jews, he said to them, “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.” Upon which they all exclaimed, Art thou then the Son of God? to which he answered, “Ye say truly, that I am [Note: Luke 22:69-70.].”

On another occasion we are told, that the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also, “that God was his Father, making himself equal with God [Note: John 5:18.].”

But the strongest testimony of all is, that his enemies actually put him to death for calling himself the Son of man. When the witnesses that appeared against him agreed not in their testimony, the high-priest asked him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” In these words he evidently referred to that glorious prophecy of Daniel, where the Son of man is represented as receiving from the Father an universal and everlasting dominion [Note: Daniel 7:13-14.]. Instantly the high-priest rent his clothes, and said, “What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be worthy of death [Note: Mark 14:61-64.].” Now, if the name “Son of man” did not import that he was God also, why did not our Lord rectify their mistake, and inform them that he did not intend to arrogate divine honour to himself, or to insinuate that he was any more than a common prophet? By this he would have invalidated in an instant the charge of blasphemy, and have obliged them either to release him, or to find some other pretext for putting him to death. But our Lord knew that they were right in their interpretation of his words; and therefore he submitted in silence to the sentence that was dictated by their blind infuriated zeal [Note: Thus it fully appears that “the Son of man” is none other than “God manifest in the flesh.” And though there are many passages that more directly prove this point, yet are these peculiarly strong, inasmuch as they prove the divinity of Christ from things which are spoken of him under that title, which most of all denotes his humanity.].]

It will be found an easier task to shew,

II. For what purpose he came into the world—

In our Lord’s assertion respecting this, we cannot fail to notice,

1. The humiliating description which he gives of the human race—

[Every living man is characterized by this description, “That which was lost.” All are “by nature children of wrath [Note: Ephesians 2:3.]:” and by practice they have aggravated their guilt and condemnation a thousand-fold. To understand the full import of this word, “lost,” let us reflect on the state of those that are already in hell, their guilt, their condemnation by the law, their banishment from the Divine presence, their inconceivable and irremediable misery, then we shall see our own state, with this only difference; that we are yet on mercy’s ground, and may have our sentence reversed, and our misery prevented; whereas they are gone beyond redemption: they are criminals already executed; and we are under the same sentence, uncertain whether we shall not the very next hour be called forth for execution, but with a pardon offered us on certain terms. O that we could realize this awful thought! — — —]

2. The explicit declaration which he makes of the intent of his coming—

[We should never have sought him: we are like a lost sheep, that never traces back its steps to the fold it has deserted. He therefore came to “seek” us. However solicitous we had been to avert the wrath of God, we never could have done it by any means within our own power. He therefore came to “save” us; to save us by his blood from the guilt of our sins; to save us by his Spirit from the power and pollution of them.

To form a just idea of our state by means of his advent, let us once more consider the state of those in hell. Let us suppose that he went down to hell itself, and there proclaimed liberty and salvation to those who would believe in him: the state of his auditors there would exactly represent our state: and if we do not take the same interest in the glad tidings that they would, it is because we do not feel ourselves so utterly lost as we really are.

But whether we will believe it or not, this is our state, and to deliver us from it was the great end of his advent. It was for this, that the Son of God humbled himself to become a son of man; and, if we will believe in him, he will exalt us children of men, that we may be “sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty [Note: John 1:12.].”]

Application [Note: The latter part of the subject is so plain and easy, that the youngest minister can be at no loss to illustrate it.]—

1. To those who deny that they are utterly lost and undone—

[Produce one person that is not wholly lost, and we will shew you one that has nothing to do with Christ, any more than Satan himself has. It was only them that are lost that Christ came to seek and save. Let proud self-justifying sinners consider this.]

2. To those who desire to obtain salvation—

[The person that came to seek and save you was fully equal to the task. He was God as well as man; and therefore there can be no want of efficacy in his blood to pardon, or in his grace to sanctify, you. Trust in him, and he will prove himself able to save you to the very uttermost.]


Verse 12

DISCOURSE: 1563

THE REBELLIOUS CITIZENS

Luke 19:12; Luke 19:14. A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return—But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

THERE is scarcely any one to be found who does not imagine he loves God. Men form erroneous notions of the Deity, and then approve of him as corresponding with their views of his character. But, if all his attributes were faithfully set before them, they would rather turn from him with hatred and disgust. The Jews conceived, that, when their Messiah should come, they should all be ready to welcome his arrival. But, when he really did come, and declared that his kingdom was not of this world, they poured contempt upon him, and persecuted him unto death. To shew them this conduct of theirs was foreseen, our blessed Lord advertised them of it before it came to pass. And, to rectify their views, spake to them the parable before us.

“The nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom,” represented our Lord Jesus Christ—

[We are not to look for any hidden meaning in the title here given him: but it was well suited to the Lord Jesus as the only- begotten Son of God [Note: ἀνθρωπύς εὐγενὴς.]. His journey “to a far country to receive a kingdom,” to us appears dark; but to a Jew, it would be exceeding clear and apposite. The ecclesiastical and civil governors were at that time appointed by the Roman emperor; and were frequently sent for, either to be confirmed in their authority, or to answer for their abuse of it. This was well known to the Jewish nation; so that, as applied to the Messiah, the allusion would appear both obvious and elegant. The Lord Jesus, though he was a king from the very hour of his birth (for he was “born King of the Jews”), never assumed any thing of royal dignity, but lived in so mean a condition, that sometimes “he had not even where to lay his head.” But on his ascension to heaven, he was “exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour [Note: Acts 5:31.],” and was invested with authority over all the powers of heaven, earth, and hell [Note: Ephesians 1:20-22.].”]

The conduct of the citizens towards this nobleman marks the conduct which would be observed towards the Lord Jesus both by Jews and Gentiles—

[They “hated him,” we are told, “and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” Thus the Jews treated our blessed Lord whilst he was yet in the midst of them; for they even put him to death for making himself a king, and declared, that they “had no king but Csesar.” And after his ascension they strove to the uttermost to prevent the establishment of his kingdom upon earth, persecuting to imprisonment and death all who called themselves his subjects.

And what is the treatment which he receives from us at this day? The conduct of those citizens, as expressed in their message, marked deliberation, union, virulence: and with these is our conduct very clearly stamped. Our rejection of Christ is not sudden or occasional, but constant and uniform — — — Nor is it peculiar to any one description of persons, but is found in all of every rank and every age — — — Nor is there any other thing under heaven which so kindles the wrath of men, or instigates them to such implacable animosity, as this; “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake,” and “whosoever killeth you, shall think he doeth God service”— — —]

The recompence awarded to them by him, shews what all the enemies of Christ must expect at his hands—

[He said to his attendants, “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, and would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me [Note: ver. 27.].” So when our blessed Lord shall come to judge the world, will he say to his attendant angels. He bore long with the Jews before he destroyed them: and so he may do with us. But he inflicted on them at last a judgment heavier far than ever befell any nation under heaven. And on us also at last, when the day of grace has terminated, shall wrath come to the very uttermost. Now every repenting sinner shall be spared and made partaker of his mercy: but then no pity shall be shewn to any impenitent transgressor; but all without exception shall have the cup of God’s indignation put into their hands, and shall drink of it to all eternity. If the sword that smites his rebellious subjects were to put an end to their existence, it were well: but the death which it inflicts will be attended with an agony of which no conception can be formed, and of which there shall be no mitigation or end so long as God himself shall endure.]

And now let me make my appeal to you:

1. Has not this been your conduct?

[The kingdom of Christ has been set up amongst you, and you have all been repeatedly called upon to submit to his sceptre. But who amongst you have thrown away the weapons of your rebellion? Who have renounced “the lords which have hitherto had dominion over them, and determined henceforth to make no mention of any other name than that of Christ [Note: Isaiah 26:13.]?” Who account “his yoke light and easy,” and desire to have every thought of their hearts subjected to the obedience of Christ? You cannot but know that from your very earliest days, your own will, rather than his, has been the rule of your action; and that, instead of humbling yourselves before him, and seeking mercy through his atoning blood, you have maintained a stoutness of heart, most of you, at least, even to the present hour. I am well aware, that all have not equally avowed their independence on him, or proceeded to the same extremities in their rebellion against him: but whether you have rejected him with Pharisaic pride or with Sadducean indifference, the effect has been the same; you have equally in your hearts said, “Who is Lord over us?” “I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice.” I warn you then, that though he has with astonishing patience and long-suffering borne with you hitherto, the time is shortly coming when he will call you to account; and when, if you persist in your rebellion, he will say, “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me.”]

2. Is not this your desert?

[We are apt to wonder at the Jews, that they could treat with such envenomed hostility a man like our blessed Saviour, so mild, so benevolent, so blameless. But their guilt is not to be compared with ours, whose views of his character are incomparably more enlarged. They saw him but as a man. We know him to be God as well as man, even “Emmanuel, God with us.” They knew not the true end of his coming into the world: we know that he came “to give his life a ransom for us,” and by his own obedience unto death to make reconciliation for us with our offended God. We even profess to believe in him, and to be his obedient followers: and yet, in our conduct, we shew ourselves “enemies to him in our minds by wicked works,” even as they. What then can we expect but that the sword of vengeance shall be drawn forth against us, and that, when we shall stand before him in the last day, he will bid us to “depart accursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Dear brethren, I pray God you may not, by persisting in your rebellion, reduce yourselves to this awful condition. Now, if you will submit yourselves to him, he will be gracious and merciful unto you, and will “blot out your iniquities as a morning cloud;” but if you suffer this day of grace and salvation to pass unimproved, you will deplore it to all eternity: for “how can ye escape, if ye neglect so great salvation?”]


Verse 12-13

DISCOURSE: 1562

THE POUNDS

Luke 19:12-13. A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

MANKIND are prone to amuse themselves with prospects of earthly grandeur, and to neglect the most important ends and purposes of life. The Jews were expecting their Messiah to erect a temporal kingdom; the Disciples themselves also were led away by this fond conceit. At our Lord’s last ascent to Jerusalem, this expectation prevailed amongst all orders and ranks of men [Note: ver. 11.]. To rectify their notions and turn their attention to their proper concerns, he delivered to them this parable [Note: The parable states, that a nobleman, having been invested with royal dignity, reckoned with his servants to whom he had committed money, and punished the citizens who had refused submission to his authority. These being perfectly distinct, we shall treat them separately, and confine our attention at present to the former.]. Christ is the person here intended by the nobleman; he has committed to every man something which is to be improved for him; and he is shortly coming at the day of judgment to reckon with us. These points are so clear that we need insist on them only in a way of application—

I. Has not Christ given us something to improve for him?

[We are ready enough to fix a high value on what we possess, when we think it will reflect honour on ourselves: but we are apt to think lightly of it, when we are reminded of the responsibility connected with it. Few indeed have great talents or extensive influence; but every person has at least a pound [Note: The value of the mina is not ascertained: some think it was equal to about three guineas; others, that it was rather more than five.] committed to him. Have we not, in the first place, been endued with reason? This surely is capable of great improvement. Have we not also enjoyed many sabbaths and ordinances? These might have been turned to a good account for God. Have we not also had access to the Holy Scriptures? From these we might have learned all the mysteries of godliness. We should therefore have studied them with all humility and diligence. Have we not experienced many convictions of conscience and gracious operations of God’s Spirit? These are inestimable, and may be made subservient to our eternal welfare. Have we not received many calls and warnings from God in his Providence? These, if duly attended to, might have been occasions of much good to our souls: and all these things are mercies, of which we must hereafter give an account.]

II. What improvement have we made of his favours?—

[The injunction given to all, is, “Occupy, that is, Trade, till I come;” and all these things are given us to be improved for God [Note: 1 Corinthians 12:7.]. What use then have we made of the pound committed to us? Have we employed our reason in search of Divine truth? Have we spent our Sabbaths in meditation and prayer? Have we profited by the ordinances as we might have done? Have we taken the Scriptures as a guide to our feet and lantern to our path? Have we obeyed the dictates of conscience, and the motions of God’s Spirit? Have we laid to heart the various dispensations of Providence which we observed in our own concerns, and in the world around us? Have we, in short, laboured to improve our time, our money, our influence for him who has entrusted them to our care? Have we laboured earnestly to fulfil that apostolic injunction [Note: 1 Peter 4:10.]—?]

III. What excuse have we for neglecting to improve them?—

[The slothful servant cast the blame upon his lord: nor are there wanting amongst ourselves those who resemble him. We say, God requires more than he will enable us to perform: but can this be affirmed with even a shadow of truth? Do not his promises extend to all our wants? May not every one adopt the words of the Apostle Paul [Note: Philippians 4:13.]—? Even if this assertion were true, it would not justify our supineness. The more “austere” our Lord were, the more we should fear to provoke him: we should endeavour at least to approve ourselves to him as we could. If we could not do all, it is no reason that we should do nothing. If we could not improve his money by trading, we should “put it into the bank.” Our excuses then will only turn to our confusion. God will justly say to us, “Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee.”]

IV. What recompence have we reason to expect?—

[Our Lord will reward every man according to his works. Are we ready then to give up our account to him? Can we say, “Lord, thy pound hath gained ten, or five pounds?” Can we say upon good grounds that it hath gained even two? Happy for us, if we have the testimony of our conscience respecting this. We shall gladly, like the good servants, ascribe the honour to our Lord [Note: They do not say I have gained, but, “Thy pound” hath gained: they knew and acknowledged that they had nothing of their own to trade with.]: we shall adopt the language of the Apostle [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:10.]—, and of David [Note: 1 Chronicles 29:14.]—: nor will our Lord be backward to reward our faithful exertions. He will recompense every one in proportion to his labour and success [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:8.]; and to every one he will give what infinitely exceeds the value of his services [Note: The government of five or ten cities is a rich compensation indeed for the improvement of one pound.]. But, alas! are there not many who have hid their money in a napkin? What recompence then must such slothful servants receive? Christ will shortly deprive them of the means of grace they possess, and make them monuments of his everlasting displeasure: nor will this be the reward of those only who dissipate his money: it will be the certain recompence of unprofitableness. Let not any one therefore hope to be approved while he continues idle: let not any one be satisfied with mere negative holiness: let our exertions in our Master’s service be unwearied: let us, like the saints of old, look to the recompence of reward [Note: Hebrews 11:26.]: and let us stand ready to give up our account with joy. So shall we have confidence before him, and not be ashamed at his coming [Note: 1 John 2:28.].]


Verse 14

DISCOURSE: 1563

THE REBELLIOUS CITIZENS

Luke 19:12; Luke 19:14. A certain nobleman went into a far country, to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return—But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

THERE is scarcely any one to be found who does not imagine he loves God. Men form erroneous notions of the Deity, and then approve of him as corresponding with their views of his character. But, if all his attributes were faithfully set before them, they would rather turn from him with hatred and disgust. The Jews conceived, that, when their Messiah should come, they should all be ready to welcome his arrival. But, when he really did come, and declared that his kingdom was not of this world, they poured contempt upon him, and persecuted him unto death. To shew them this conduct of theirs was foreseen, our blessed Lord advertised them of it before it came to pass. And, to rectify their views, spake to them the parable before us.

“The nobleman who went into a far country to receive a kingdom,” represented our Lord Jesus Christ—

[We are not to look for any hidden meaning in the title here given him: but it was well suited to the Lord Jesus as the only- begotten Son of God [Note: ἀνθρωπύς εὐγενὴς.]. His journey “to a far country to receive a kingdom,” to us appears dark; but to a Jew, it would be exceeding clear and apposite. The ecclesiastical and civil governors were at that time appointed by the Roman emperor; and were frequently sent for, either to be confirmed in their authority, or to answer for their abuse of it. This was well known to the Jewish nation; so that, as applied to the Messiah, the allusion would appear both obvious and elegant. The Lord Jesus, though he was a king from the very hour of his birth (for he was “born King of the Jews”), never assumed any thing of royal dignity, but lived in so mean a condition, that sometimes “he had not even where to lay his head.” But on his ascension to heaven, he was “exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour [Note: Acts 5:31.],” and was invested with authority over all the powers of heaven, earth, and hell [Note: Ephesians 1:20-22.].”]

The conduct of the citizens towards this nobleman marks the conduct which would be observed towards the Lord Jesus both by Jews and Gentiles—

[They “hated him,” we are told, “and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” Thus the Jews treated our blessed Lord whilst he was yet in the midst of them; for they even put him to death for making himself a king, and declared, that they “had no king but Csesar.” And after his ascension they strove to the uttermost to prevent the establishment of his kingdom upon earth, persecuting to imprisonment and death all who called themselves his subjects.

And what is the treatment which he receives from us at this day? The conduct of those citizens, as expressed in their message, marked deliberation, union, virulence: and with these is our conduct very clearly stamped. Our rejection of Christ is not sudden or occasional, but constant and uniform — — — Nor is it peculiar to any one description of persons, but is found in all of every rank and every age — — — Nor is there any other thing under heaven which so kindles the wrath of men, or instigates them to such implacable animosity, as this; “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake,” and “whosoever killeth you, shall think he doeth God service”— — —]

The recompence awarded to them by him, shews what all the enemies of Christ must expect at his hands—

[He said to his attendants, “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, and would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me [Note: ver. 27.].” So when our blessed Lord shall come to judge the world, will he say to his attendant angels. He bore long with the Jews before he destroyed them: and so he may do with us. But he inflicted on them at last a judgment heavier far than ever befell any nation under heaven. And on us also at last, when the day of grace has terminated, shall wrath come to the very uttermost. Now every repenting sinner shall be spared and made partaker of his mercy: but then no pity shall be shewn to any impenitent transgressor; but all without exception shall have the cup of God’s indignation put into their hands, and shall drink of it to all eternity. If the sword that smites his rebellious subjects were to put an end to their existence, it were well: but the death which it inflicts will be attended with an agony of which no conception can be formed, and of which there shall be no mitigation or end so long as God himself shall endure.]

And now let me make my appeal to you:

1. Has not this been your conduct?

[The kingdom of Christ has been set up amongst you, and you have all been repeatedly called upon to submit to his sceptre. But who amongst you have thrown away the weapons of your rebellion? Who have renounced “the lords which have hitherto had dominion over them, and determined henceforth to make no mention of any other name than that of Christ [Note: Isaiah 26:13.]?” Who account “his yoke light and easy,” and desire to have every thought of their hearts subjected to the obedience of Christ? You cannot but know that from your very earliest days, your own will, rather than his, has been the rule of your action; and that, instead of humbling yourselves before him, and seeking mercy through his atoning blood, you have maintained a stoutness of heart, most of you, at least, even to the present hour. I am well aware, that all have not equally avowed their independence on him, or proceeded to the same extremities in their rebellion against him: but whether you have rejected him with Pharisaic pride or with Sadducean indifference, the effect has been the same; you have equally in your hearts said, “Who is Lord over us?” “I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice.” I warn you then, that though he has with astonishing patience and long-suffering borne with you hitherto, the time is shortly coming when he will call you to account; and when, if you persist in your rebellion, he will say, “Bring hither those that were mine enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me.”]

2. Is not this your desert?

[We are apt to wonder at the Jews, that they could treat with such envenomed hostility a man like our blessed Saviour, so mild, so benevolent, so blameless. But their guilt is not to be compared with ours, whose views of his character are incomparably more enlarged. They saw him but as a man. We know him to be God as well as man, even “Emmanuel, God with us.” They knew not the true end of his coming into the world: we know that he came “to give his life a ransom for us,” and by his own obedience unto death to make reconciliation for us with our offended God. We even profess to believe in him, and to be his obedient followers: and yet, in our conduct, we shew ourselves “enemies to him in our minds by wicked works,” even as they. What then can we expect but that the sword of vengeance shall be drawn forth against us, and that, when we shall stand before him in the last day, he will bid us to “depart accursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Dear brethren, I pray God you may not, by persisting in your rebellion, reduce yourselves to this awful condition. Now, if you will submit yourselves to him, he will be gracious and merciful unto you, and will “blot out your iniquities as a morning cloud;” but if you suffer this day of grace and salvation to pass unimproved, you will deplore it to all eternity: for “how can ye escape, if ye neglect so great salvation?”]


Verse 26

DISCOURSE: 1564

TALENTS LOST, IF NOT IMPROVED

Luke 19:26. I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away.

THE force of habit, irrespective of any particular influence from above, is well known. But, in addition to that, God has annexed a blessing to the use of means, and has promised that they shall not he employed in vain. The words before us were uttered by our blessed Lord on different occasions. They seem to have been used by him as a kind of proverb. At all events, as being so repeated by him, they deserve particular attention. We may well consider them in a threefold view:

I. As a principle established—

God has ordained, not only that means shall be used in order to the end, but that the very mercies he has vouchsafed to us shall be either augmented or diminished, according as we exert ourselves for the improvement of them, or suffer them to lie by us unimproved. This he has established as a principle,

1. In nature—

[Every thing, in the first instance, is the gift of God. The fertility of the earth, the vegetative power of the seed, the genial influence of the sun and rain, are all of God. But still they would all be in vain without the labour of man. Adam was required to labour, even in Paradise: and so, now, man must till the ground, and use all the means which the different kinds of agriculture require, in order to ensure a crop; and, if he neglect his duty in these respects, not only will he lose the fruits which he might otherwise have obtained, but his land will sustain an injury which the labour of years will be scarcely able to repair. This is the account given us by Solomon, after beholding with his eyes the very event itself: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man [Note: Proverbs 24:3-34.].” Through his neglect of the proper means, not only does he fail to be enriched; but he loses what he possessed; and poverty, with gradual and irresistible force, seizes hold upon him.]

2. In grace—

[All the faculties which we possess are given us from above. But the understanding must be cultivated, the affections must receive a proper direction, and the conscience be exercised as in the presence of the heart-searching God. If we will not exercise the faculties in the way which God has appointed, not only shall we suffer loss of all that we might have attained, but the understanding will become blind, the affections sensual, and the conscience seared. These were the very effects produced by the ministry of the Prophet Isaiah, amongst his hearers [Note: Isaiah 6:9-10.]; as also by our blessed Lord [Note: Matthew 13:13-15.] and his Apostles, in their ministrations [Note: Acts 28:25-27.]: so that in every age those words of Solomon have been verified, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich [Note: Proverbs 10:4.].”

If it be said, that our entire dependence upon God for every thing may well supersede all labour on our part; I answer, that, instead of superseding our exertions, it is urged as an encouragement to us to labour with all our might: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure [Note: Philippians 2:12-13.].” Nothing will be added to us but in the use of means; and “whether we be righteous or wicked, the fruit of our doings, and the reward of our hands, shall be given to us [Note: Isaiah 3:10-11.].”]

The words of our text may be further considered,

II. As a fact realized—

They are realized in the experience of all, and especially amongst the people of the Lord;

1. In their gifts—

[God has given to his servants somewhat of a spiritual discernment; perhaps, too, a faculty to impart the knowledge they possess, and an ability to spread their wants before the Lord in prayer. Now these, and such like gifts, are increased by use, and lessened by neglect. Let any one look back to the time when any of these gifts were bestowed upon him, and mark what measure of improvement he has made of them; and then let him compare his present state in relation to them: and I doubt not but that he will acknowledge the truth of our Lord’s assertion, that, whilst a good and diligent use was made of the gifts, they were augmented to him; and that, when he became remiss in the use of them, they were proportionably diminished. Indeed, this is nothing but what we are taught expressly to expect at the hands of God: for we are told, “It is impossible for those that were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame [Note: Hebrews 6:4-6.].” Here it is evident, that not only does a neglect of talents prevent the increase of them; but it causes them to be withdrawn, and brings an obduracy over the heart, and indisposes it for the reception of any further blessings.]

2. In their graces—

[On some, God has bestowed a measure of contrition, and faith, and love, and peace, and holiness: and we see, by the stony-ground hearers, what declension takes place in these graces, when the possessor of them becomes remiss in secret duties. He “leaves his first love [Note: Revelation 2:4.]:” and “the things which remain in him are ready to die; insomuch, that he may appear rather as one dead, than alive [Note: Revelation 3:1-2.].” Let any one call to mind those favoured seasons, when his heart was dissolved in tears of penitential sorrow, or elevated with joy under a sense of God’s pardoning love: let him now say, Whether, after having lost them by neglect, he finds it an easy thing to regain them? Rather let him say, Whether he be not in danger of having that realized, in his experience, which St. Peter has so awfully declared: “If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them [Note: 2 Peter 2:20-21.].” A work of grace is not like the work of a statuary, which, if left for a season, will be found unchanged; but like a stone rolled up a hill, which, when the labour ceases, will descend to the bottom, and require all the work to be performed again.]

Well then, may we regard the words of our text,

III. As a lesson inculcated—

Surely there is much in these words,

1. For our warning—

[There is not any one of us who has not some talent committed to him: and for that, whether it be more or less, we are responsible. The man who had but one talent, did wrong to hide it in a napkin: and justly was it taken from him, and he was consigned to punishment, as an unprofitable servant. We must “look to ourselves, and diligently too, that we lose not the things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward [Note: 2 John, ver. 8.].” The Israelites who came out of Egypt, and yet perished in the wilderness, are held forth to us as a warning to make a due improvement of the mercies we have received [Note: Jude, ver. 5.]. Our Lord also bids us to “remember Lot’s wife.” To every one of you, then, I would say, Employ your time, and put forth all your powers, in the service of the Lord. This is to every one of you a day of grace, a day of salvation. The Gospel now sounds in your ears. The Saviour is proclaimed to you in all the wonders of his love and mercy; and not one of you that will call upon him, shall be rejected. On the other hand, if, like Capernaum, you are exalted in your privileges, like Capernaum, shall you also be distinguished by a heavier condemnation, if you abuse them.]

2. For our encouragement—

[If only we will engage diligently in the work assigned us, verily “our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:58.].” Hear what blessed encouragement is afforded us by an inspired Apostle: “Giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall not be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall; but so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ [Note: 2 Peter 1:5-11.].” What can any of us desire more than this? We would not wish to have our own labours dispensed with: all that any of us can wish, is, to be assured that they shall be effectual to the desired end. In the name of Almighty God, then, I declare to all of you, that to him who will employ his talents “shall more be given, and he shall have abundance [Note: Matthew 13:12.];” abundance here, for more special improvement; and abundance hereafter, as his recompence of reward [Note: ver. 17–19.].]


Verse 27

DISCOURSE: 1565

CHRIST’S ENEMIES WARNED

Luke 19:27. Those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.

IN any assembly of Christians, there appears, externally, but little difference between one and another: for, as all profess the same faith, it may be supposed they stand nearly on the same footing as it respects the eternal world. But amongst them, if there be found many “friends” of the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be acknowledged and rewarded by him in the future judgment, there will also be found many who, as enemies, shall be made objects of his everlasting displeasure. To assist you, my brethren, in ascertaining to which party you belong, and what sentence from him you are to expect, I will endeavour to shew you,

I. Who are they whom Christ will account his enemies—

We, in general, number none amongst his enemies except those who have been guilty of some very flagrant transgression; and even for them we find so many excuses, that we are ready to acquit them of any intentional disrespect to him. But he will judge by a very different standard from that which we adopt. He will inquire, What has been our regard for him, and what our conduct in reference to his revealed will?

He requires all to take upon them his light and easy yoke—

[He has a right to demand this at our hands. As our Creator, he may well expect that every faculty we possess should be employed for him. As our preserver, in whom we live and move and have our being, he is yet further entitled to every service which we can render to him. Above all, as our Redeemer, who “has bought us with the inestimable price” of his own blood, he may well expect that we live only for him, and that “our whole body, soul, and spirit be sanctified to his service.]

In what light, then, must he view us, if in this we counteract his will?

[Can he call us his friends? or can we flatter ourselves that we have any title to be regarded by him under that character? If “we will not that he should reign over us,” that very disposition is itself an irrefragable proof that we are “enemies to him” in our hearts: we are enemies to his will, his kingdom, his glory. We cannot serve God and mammon too: whichever we affect, we must of necessity hate and despise the other [Note: Matthew 6:24.]. We may think this “an hard saying:” but there is no such thing as neutrality in reference to God: “Whosoever will be the friend of the world, he is thereby constituted the enemy of God [Note: James 4:4. See the Greek.]” — — —]

Supposing such persons to be justly designated the enemies of Christ, let us consider,

II. What is the judgment that awaits them—

They will certainly be distinguished by the Judge of quick and dead—

[Men in this world, who can judge only by the outward appearance, may easily be mistaken in their estimate of human character: but to Him who will decide the destinies of men, the most secret recesses of their hearts are open. He will discern with infallible certainty what their true character was: to his all-seeing eye it will be as obvious as to us is the difference between sheep and goats. And when he shall say to his angels, “Bring them hither,” there will be no possibility of escape. None can hide themselves so as to escape their search; nor can any resist the power that summons them to his presence.]

Then will be inflicted on them the threatened judgments—

[Capital punishment amongst men is merely a privation of life: but the punishment that will be inflicted on the enemies of Christ will be of perpetual duration. There is “a lake of fire and brimstone, into which they will be cast;” and “the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever and ever.” This the Prophet Nahum distinctly affirms: “God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth: the Lord revengeth, and is furious: the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies [Note: Nahum 1:2.].” The Psalmist also, if possible, yet more pertinently declares, “Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies; thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the Lord shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them [Note: Psalms 21:8-9.].”]

Address—

1. Those who think this a hard sentence—

[Let me ask, What can you reasonably expect? Can you suppose that God will “put no difference between his friends and his enemies; between those who serve him, and those who serve him not [Note: Malachi 3:18.]?” But you think that God will proclaim a general amnesty; since he is too great to be affected by any thing that we have done, and too good to notice it with such severity. Amongst earthly governments, a general amnesty may well be proclaimed, and punishment be limited to those who have been the ringleaders in rebellion. Indeed, a monarch who should proceed to extremity with all who have risen up against him, might almost depopulate his empire; and, if he exercise mercy, the pardoned rebels may richly repay him by their fidelity in future. But God needs not us, nor can ever be repaid by us, for any lenity which he may exercise. He must and will fulfil his own word, and will execute judgment on all impenitent transgressors. And the only hope that remains for us, is, to humble ourselves before him, and to seek for mercy through that very Saviour, against whom we have rebelled.]

2. Those who acquiesce in it—

[Many acquiesce in the declarations of God as true, who by no means approve of them as good: and I pray you, brethren, not to confound these ideas, or to give yourselves credit for the better feeling, because you cannot divest yourselves of that which forces itself irresistibly upon you. Never imagine that you are right in the sight of God, till you delight in the Redeemer’s yoke as light and easy, and are ready, as faithful subjects, to lay down your lives in his service.]


Verse 37-38

DISCOURSE: 1566

OUR LORD’S TRIUMPHANT ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM

Luke 19:37-38. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the Disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

DURING the greater part of our Lord’s ministry upon earth, he abstained, for the most part, from an avowal of his Messiahship, especially when conversing with the Scribes and Pharisees: he rather left it to be inferred from his words and actions, than asserted it in plain terms. Two reasons he had for this reserve: one was, to prevent his zealous followers from proclaiming him a king; and the other was, to keep the wrath of his enemies from breaking forth to the uttermost, before he should have finished the work which God had given him to do. Now, however, the time being come for him to return to his Father, he openly acknowledged himself to be that King, of whom the Prophet Zechariah had spoken, saying, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass [Note: Zechariah 9:9.].” In general, the fulfilment of prophecy was left to the course of events: but here our Lord himself directed the events which were to accomplish the prediction [Note: Matthew 21:4-5.]. The acclamations of the multitude, at the time of his fulfilling this prophecy, will afford us a profitable subject for our present meditation. Let us consider,

I. The acclamations themselves—

Doubtless the people at that time had abundant reason to rejoice—

[They had long seen the wonderful works which the Lord Jesus had done; and more especially a most stupendous miracle just wrought—the restoring of Lazarus to life, after he had been dead four days. This carried to the minds of multitudes a more than ordinary conviction of Christ’s Messiahship; because Lazarus went in and out before them, a living witness of his power: and so universal was this impression, that “the chief priests consulted to put Lazarus to death [Note: John 12:9-10.],” in order to remove from before their eyes an evidence which they could not withstand.

Persuaded that he was indeed the Messiah, they welcomed him with suitable expressions of admiration and love. They felt that it was an inestimable privilege to behold Him of whom Moses and the prophets had for so many ages spoken, and whom many prophets and kings had in vain desired to see.]

The particular expressions of their joy must be distinctly noticed—

[They were the very terms which David, a thousand years before, had suggested as suited to the occasion [Note: Psalms 118:25-26.]. How far the people used them in their highest sense, we cannot exactly declare. We fear their views of him were too carnal to admit of their entering into the full import of the Psalmist’s words. Yet, even in their view of them, the sending of the Messiah was justly deemed an evidence of God’s good-will towards them; and they did well in rendering unto God the utmost possible tribute of adoration and thanksgiving.]

But, not to occupy our time with that which merely concerned them, let us consider,

II. What reason we also have for similar expressions of joy—

That Jesus is come to us, we can have no doubt. We, therefore, have reason for more exalted joy; because,

1. The evidences of his Messiahship are to us more clear—

[We have all the same evidences that they had; except that they saw the miracles with their eyes, whilst we only hear of them by the report of others. Yet, when that report is duly considered, it will be found not a whit less satisfactory than ocular demonstration. Besides, we have an evidence which they could not have; an evidence far surpassing all other; namely, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ himself from the dead. On this, Jesus had, from the very beginning, rested the whole weight and evidence of his pretensions: “Destroy this temple; and in three days I will raise it up again.” This, we are told, “he spake respecting his body,” which he would raise from the grave the third day [Note: John 2:19-22.]. Knowing, therefore, that he has accomplished this, we can have no doubt who He is, or that he is “declared to be the Son of God with power, by his resurrection from the dead [Note: Romans 1:4.].”]

2. The nature of his kingdom is, by us, more fully understood—

[They, not excepting even his own Apostles, had an idea of a temporal Messiah, who should deliver them from the Roman yoke, and exalt their nation to greater power and splendour than ever they enjoyed even in the days of Solomon [Note: Acts 1:6.]. But we know, that his kingdom is spiritual; and that he is come to deliver us from sin and Satan, death and hell. We have indeed in ourselves an evidence of his power. We know what it is to have “his kingdom set up within us;” to have both his enemies and ours bruised under our feet; and to be “brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” We, therefore, have proportionably greater reason to rejoice; because the benefits which we are taught to look for are so far beyond all that they had any conception of.]

3. The interest we have in him is also more deep and lasting—

[Many of them had been healed in their bodies; but we, even every one of us that welcomes him aright, have been healed in our souls, and have his healing work continually carrying on within us. They, whatever benefits they might receive, looked only to this life as the season for enjoying them. But we look to the eternal world, as the true and proper season for enjoying the fulness of his blessings. The commencement of them, indeed, we here possess, in pardon of sin, deliverance from its power, and in the manifestations of God’s love to our souls. But these are only earnests of our full inheritance, which we shall possess for ever in a better world.

I think, that when these considerations are duly weighed, we shall have no hesitation in adopting, in the highest possible sense, the acclamations that were used by them.]

Let me, however, add,

1. A word of caution—

[It is evident that the joy of that people was of a tumultuous kind: and I confess I am no friend to such expressions of piety amongst us. It was suited for them; but it is not so for us. Our joy in the Lord should be more intelligent, more humble, more quiet, more enduring.

We should have just views of Christ altogether, and of the whole work which he came to accomplish — — — We should have a deeper sense of our need of him, and of our utter undone state without him — — — We should have less of animal fervour, and more of that which is spiritual — — — And, with us, it should be not merely occasional, as called forth by some particular circumstance, but the daily and continued habit of our minds. In a word, ours should resemble rather the joy of the glorified saints above, who prostrate themselves on their faces before the throne, and rest not, day nor night, in ascribing glory to Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb.]

2. A word of encouragement—

[If you truly glory in the Saviour as you ought to do, you will find Pharisees in abundance ready to condemn you for your zeal and love. One would have thought, that the reasons which that people had to exalt the Saviour were abundantly sufficient to justify them, even in the eyes of those who could not participate their joy. But envy is of a peculiarly malignant character: and they who have no piety themselves, hate to behold the exercise of it in others. Know, however, that if man condemn, God approves, the exercises of love; and that they who “confess Christ before men shall be confessed by him before God and all his holy angels.”] [Note: If this should be a subject for Christmas Day, the joy that is recommended may be contrasted with that which is so generally sought after at that season.]


Verse 40

DISCOURSE: 1567

OUR DUTY TOWARDS THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Luke 19:40. I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

THE exercise of the affections is not only approved, but applauded, when earthly things are the objects of our pursuit: but, when the soul is attracted by heavenly objects, the livelier emotions of the mind are deemed enthusiasm; and even gratitude itself must restrain its voice, lest it incur the censure of the world. But, whatever construction may be put upon our conduct, or whatever difficulties we may be called to encounter in the discharge of our duty, we should study to approve ourselves to God, and to render unto him the honour due unto his name. At the time of our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem “the whole multitude of his Disciples began to rejoice, and to praise God for all the mighty works that they had seen [Note: ver. 37.].” But, acceptable as this tribute of praise was to God, it excited only envy and indignation in the breasts of the malignant Pharisees. They considered this display of their gratitude as a just ground for displeasure; and therefore desired our Lord to silence them; “Master,” said they, “rebuke thy Disciples.” Our blessed Lord, however, instead of rebuking, vindicated his Disciples; and declared, that if, from any motive whatever, they should be induced to withhold their grateful acknowledgments, they would do so to their eternal shame: “I tell you,” &c.

In discoursing on these words, we shall,

I. Shew what obligations we lie under, to magnify and adore the Lord—

The Disciples at that time had abundant reason to praise his name—

[They had seen the miracles he had wrought, and especially that of raising Lazarus from the grave after he had been dead four days [Note: John 12:17-18.]: perhaps many of them had themselves experienced his power to heal. From what they bad seen and heard, they were assured, that he was the Messiah so long promised to the world [Note: ver. 38.]: and they regarded his advent as the most wonderful expression of God’s favour toward their whole nation. Could they then keep silence? Were they to be blamed for testifying their love to this august Personage, now that they saw him in the very act of fulfilling one of the most remarkable of all the prophecies [Note: Compare Zechariah 9:9. with John 12:13-15.]? When they were thus highly privileged to witness, what “many prophets and kings had in vain wished to see and hear,” would they not have been guilty of the basest ingratitude, if they had held their peace? If Abraham leaped for joy at a distant prospect of that period, should not they much rather [Note: John 8:56.]?]

But our obligations to praise him are far greater than theirs—

[We have a far clearer knowledge of the dignity of his person. They viewed him indeed as “a great prophet;” and on some occasions they seemed to have thought him more than human: but on the whole, they considered him as a mere man, though indeed the greatest of men. But we know him to be “God manifest in the flesh,” even “God over all, blessed for ever [Note: 1 Timothy 3:16. Romans 9:5. Hebrews 1:3. Colossians 2:9.].” And shall we behold in him such adorable majesty and condescension, and yet withhold from him our tribute of praise?

We also are far better acquainted with the ends of his mission. The Disciples supposed that he was sent to instruct them more fully in the knowledge of God’s will, to deliver them from the Roman yoke, and to make them a prosperous and happy people. But we know that he came to deliver us from the yoke of sin and Satan, to reconcile us to God by the death of his cross, to teach us, not by his word only, but by his Spirit, and finally, to save us with an everlasting salvation. Are not we then bound to bless and adore his name?

Moreover, we have a far deeper insight into the extent of his benefits. If the Disciples had seen their nation raised to universal empire, and enjoying uninterrupted peace and prosperity, they would have been well satisfied, and would have looked for nothing beyond it, especially if they themselves were exalted to the highest offices of dignity and power. But we look for infinitely richer benefits at his hands. We expect the pardon of sin, and peace with God, and victory over our spiritual enemies, and “a kingdom that cannot be moved.” Shall we then refuse to praise him? “If we should hold our peace, will not the very stones cry out against us?”]

This being clear, we shall proceed to,

II. Enforce our duty from some additional considerations—

That we may be excited to rend the air with our acclamations and hosannas, let us consider,

1. How delightful a duty this is!

[It is justly observed by the Psalmist, that it is not only “a good,” but also “a pleasant thing to be thankful.” Who can doubt which were the happier, the disciples who shouted forth the praises of their Lord, or the Pharisees, who, with malignant jealousy, strove to silence them? Indeed, a devout and grateful spirit is a foretaste of heaven itself; and, as far as relates to the outward exercise of their affection, the Disciples on that occasion strongly resembled the heavenly hosts: they all were penetrated with fervent love to the same divine object, and exerted all their powers to magnify his name. Let us then, each in his place and station, be followers of them; and our happiness shall surely rise with our employment.]

2. How reasonable a duty it is!

[The Pharisees, if they had been asked the reason of their conduct, would doubtless have offered many specious arguments in vindication of themselves. They might have imputed the conduct of the Disciples to enthusiasm, ostentation, hypocrisy. They might have blamed Jesus for suffering them to raise such a tumult, and to endanger thereby the peace of the whole city. They might have ascribed his acquiescence to vain-glory, and a love of popularity, which did but ill accord with his pretensions to superior wisdom and humility. This would have appeared very satisfactory in their eyes; and they, like our modern Pharisees, would have arrogated to themselves the exclusive name of rational Christians. But we know on whose side reason was in the instance before us: and as long as infinite greatness, and unbounded goodness, deserve our admiration, so long will it be reasonable to bless and magnify our adorable Jesus with all our might.]

3. How necessary a duty it is!

[The Pharisees thought that, if Jesus merited any respect at all, his Disciples should have regarded him only with silent reverence, instead of attracting so much attention by their clamorous proceedings. But our Lord told them, that silent reverence, however great, was not sufficient; that they were bound to give a public testimony of their affection; and that, if they withheld it, they would be traitors to his cause. Though therefore we be not called to bear our testimony precisely in the same way, yet are we all bound to confess Christ before men [Note: Matthew 10:32-33.], and to let it be seen, “Whose we are, and whom we serve.”

Shall it be said, That there is no such occasion now for our public acknowledgements as there was then; we answer, That the world needs as much as ever to have their attention drawn to the Lord Jesus, and to be stimulated to love and serve him. And, if this were not the case, still it would be our duty to confess him openly, since in heaven, where he is universally known, he is universally and incessantly adored.]

Address [Note: If this be the subject of a Commemoration Sermon, the particular blessings that are commemorated should be opened in this place, and the audience be exhorted, in their carnal feasting, not to be unmindful of that spiritual joy which the occasion demands. In this case, the following address might be omitted.]—

1. Those who, like the Pharisees, have no heart to adore the Lord—

[It is not difficult to determine who would have taken part with the Disciples, and who with the Pharisees. We need only ask, What is our conduct now? Are we frequently and fervently engaged in the secret exercises of the closet, and are we bold in confessing Christ before an ungodly world? Or are we formal in secret duties, and ready to blame the superior zeal of others? If we be of this latter class, we should surely have joined the Pharisees in their opposition to the Disciples. To such then we say, Deceive not yourselves with vain excuses: nor think to justify yourselves by condemning others. Suppose for a moment that the Disciples, in their zeal, had exceeded the strict bounds of prudence and propriety: was that any reason why the Pharisees should render him no praise at all? Was less due from them, because others paid too much? Yea rather, was not their pretended zeal for propriety, a mere cloak for their own envy or indifference? Away then with such base dispositions as they manifested; and, instead of blaming the zeal of others, endeavour to “glorify Christ with your body and your spirit which are his [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:20.].” Far be it from us to countenance excess: but in this lukewarm age, we are far more in danger of erring from defect. This, at least, is your danger, whilst, with all your jealousy about being “righteous over-much,” you have no fears lest you should not be found “righteous enough.” To you therefore, in the name, and by the command, of Christ himself, we say, “Be zealous and repent [Note: Revelation 3:19.].”]

2. Those who, like the Disciples, feel their hearts warmed with love to Christ—

[You must expect to meet with opposition from the world, and especially from proud, envious, malignant Pharisees. But let not the fear of their censures deter you from the path of duty [Note: Hebrews 13:13.]. If Jesus have given up his life for you, it is a small matter for you to give up your names for him: and if you will not bear so light a cross as that of being called by some opprobrious name for him, you have little reason to number yourselves among his true disciples [Note: Matthew 10:38.]. It will be proper indeed for you to consider times and places, and sometimes to lay a restraint on your feelings, Jest by an unseasonable disclosure of them, you “cast your pearls before swine, that will only turn and rend you [Note: Matthew 7:6.].” But let not the fear of man be the restraining principle: rather, let the love of Christ be the one motive for moderating, as well as for exhibiting, the proofs of your love. Then shall you in due season have a public testimony of his approbation, when those who now condemn you shall be themselves condemned.]


Verse 41-42

DISCOURSE: 1568

CHRIST’S COMPASSION TO LOST SINNERS

Luke 19:41-42. And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.

IN profane history we are often called upon to admire the actions of conquerors, and of heroes. But most of the feats proposed for our admiration serve rather to evince the depravity of our nature; and are calculated only to excite horror and disgust in a well-instructed mind. Perhaps, of real magnanimity, the world never yet witnessed a more glorious instance than that before us; wherein we behold the Saviour of mankind weeping over his blood-thirsty enemies, and most pathetically lamenting their invincible ignorance and unbelief. To enter fully into the scope of his words, it will be necessary to consider them,

I. In reference to Jerusalem—

The Jews had long been the most favoured nation under heaven—

[They had had the oracles of God committed to them, when the rest of the world were left to the suggestions of unenlightened reason. The way of life and salvation was exhibited to them in their daily sacrifices, and more especially in those offered annually on the great day of atonement. They had been taught by a long succession of prophets, who were divinely qualified and commissioned to make known to them the will of God. Above all, they had now been privileged to hear the Messiah himself, and to see all his doctrines confirmed with the most numerous, most stupendous, and most unquestionable miracles. These were such advantages for the obtaining of eternal life as none others ever enjoyed, and such as must have proved effectual, if Satan had not blinded their eyes, and hardened their hearts.]

But they were now speedily to be given over to the judgments they had merited—

[They had in no respect rendered unto God according to the benefits received from him. On the contrary, they had made void the law, and established their own traditions as of superior obligation. Instead of hearkening to the prophets, they persecuted them unto death: and instead of yielding to the wisdom and authority of the Messiah, they imputed his miracles to a confederacy with the devil, and incessantly plotted to take away his life. Within the space of four days they were to fill up the measure of their iniquities by effecting their murderous purposes: and wrath was in due time to come upon them to the uttermost for all the righteous blood that they had spilled, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Christ and his Apostles. They were to be given up to judicial blindness and obduracy; and the whole nation were to suffer such calamities from the hands of the Romans, as never had been endured by any nation since the foundation of the world: and all this was but an earnest of infinitely heavier judgments, which were to abide upon them for ever and ever.]

Our Lord, foreseeing their impending miseries, was filled with compassion towards them—

[He might well have spoken to them in those terms of indignant triumph, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how shall ye escape the damnation of hell?” But he had far other thoughts on this occasion: knowing the full extent of the miseries that were coming on them, his bowels yearned over them. Nor did he only pity them as one possessed of human passions, but as their Mediator, who had come from heaven to seek and save them. Perhaps too the thought that he should one day be their Judge, and be necessitated to pass the awful sentence of condemnation on their souls, oppressed, and, for a moment, overwhelmed his spirit. Often had he already travailed, as it were, in birth with them; and now he was about to lay down his life for them. But, except to a little remnant, his efforts would be in vain. With respect to far the greater part of them, the things belonging to their peace were about to be hid from their eyes: yet if even at that hour they would have repented, he would gladly “have gathered them, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings.” But, alas! they would not; and he foresaw moreover that they never would: and therefore, despairing of ever bringing them to happiness, he looked on them with the tenderest emotions of pity, and with a flood of tears poured forth this pathetic lamentation.]

Nor could the circumstances he was in at all divert his attention from them—

[He was surrounded by vast multitudes of people; yet was he not ashamed to stop the procession, and to weep before them all. They were all crying “Hosannah to the Son of David; blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest;” yet was he deaf to their acclamations and hosannas. He foresaw all the conflicts which he was about to sustain, and the agonies he was speedily to suffer for the satisfying of divine justice; yet was he altogether insensible to his own concerns, and occupied about the welfare of his most inveterate enemies. Who but God could have exercised such magnanimity as this, or manifested such unbounded compassion?]

But, not to confine these things to the Jews, let us consider them further,

II. In reference to ourselves—

Peculiar as these circumstances were, they were both written for our admonition, and intended to represent the compassion which Jesus yet bears towards us.

We, like the Jews, have had a day of grace afforded us—

[The things belonging to our peace have been plainly revealed to us, and, we trust, faithfully declared amongst us. The way of acceptance through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, has incessantly been pointed out in the written word, in the offices of our Liturgy, in the administration of the sacraments, and in the preached Gospel. Moreover, the Holy Spirit has often striven with us to bring us to repentance; but, with respect to very many amongst us, the means have hitherto been used in vain. There are yet too many unacquainted with their depravity, and unsolicitous about an interest in the Saviour. Deeply as their eternal peace is involved in these things, they are ignorant of them, if not in theory, at least in their practical and sanctifying efficacy.]

With respect to many, this day of grace is quickly drawing to a close—

[Certain it is that, even while we are yet possessing the outward means of grace, the inward power, that alone can render them effectual, may be withdrawn. God plainly warns us that “his Spirit shall not alway strive with man:” and that by continuing to resist the Holy Ghost, we may not only “grieve” and “vex” him, but may ultimately “quench” his sacred motions. And how inexpressibly dreadful is the state of one, concerning whom God has said, “He is joined to idols, let him alone!” If once this sentence be pronounced, the things belonging to our peace will be as effectually hidden from our eyes, as if we were cut off out of the land of the living: and we shall live henceforth only to add sin to sin, and to “treasure up wrath against the day of wrath.” But at all events as soon as death comes, our day of grace must terminate; and, if we have lived all our days ignorant of Christ and his salvation, we have then no more hope of mercy than the fallen angels. And how many are there, not only of the aged and infirm, but also of the young and healthy, against whom death has already pointed his dart, and whose speedy dissolution is foreknown to God!]

And may we not suppose that Jesus is now looking, as it were, upon them with tender compassion?

[He has not now indeed the same susceptibility of grief and sorrow which once he had: but does be not long for the salvation of sinners as much as ever? Does lie not look on some, whose day of grace is nearly passed, and say, “O that thou mightest know, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace? “Does he not behold even the proudest Pharisee, and the most abandoned profligate, and without excluding either of them from his mercy, say, O that thou, even thou, wouldest turn unto me, that I might save thee! Yes surely, his address to every sinner is, “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Let us suppose for a moment that he were to come into this assembly, and to look round about upon us all; what would be the feelings of his benevolent heart? Methinks, when he beheld so many ignorant of his salvation, and perishing in the midst of mercy, he would burst into a flood of tears. A sight of so many, who by disease or accident will soon be hurried into the eternal world, while yet they are unprepared to meet their God; a sight of so many continuing gay and thoughtless, or careful only about this present world, would pierce him with the deepest sorrow, and extort from him a lamentation similar to that before us. Yea, at this moment is he inspecting all our hearts, and, as far as his situation admits of it, is grieved on our account: nor can all the anthems of saints around the throne so occupy his attention, as to make him regardless of our deplorable condition.]

Let us then see the folly of an inconsiderate and careless state—

[Perhaps many in that day might wonder at this exercise of Christ’s compassion, and consider his weeping over the people as a mark of folly and extravagance: and many at this time, if they should behold a servant of Christ expressing a concern for immortal souls in the same way, would laugh at him as a weak enthusiast. But who that knows the value of a soul, and sees in what a delusive security the generality are living, must not confess, that there is just occasion for all the compassion we can exercise, and all the zeal we can put forth? Can we imagine that Jesus would have felt so much, or given such vent to his feelings on this occasion, if there had not been sufficient reason for it. Suppose we knew for certain, that one amongst us had lost his day of grace; would it not become us all to weep over him? Let us then learn to weep for ourselves; and seek the things belonging to our peace, lest they be speedily, and for ever, hid from our eyes.]

Let us also acknowledge the blessedness of a converted state—

[If our Lord wept over the ignorant and ungodly, we may well conceive that he would rejoice over those who are divinely instructed, and walking in the way of godliness. Indeed he has represented himself as the shepherd rejoicing over his recovered sheep, and the father over the returning Prodigal. He has even said, “He will rejoice over us with joy, he will rest in his love, he will joy over us with singing.” Surely then neither is this without a cause: there must be real reason for joy, if Jesus himself rejoice over us. A soul enlightened, sanctified, and saved! O what cause for joy! Who that knows the temporal, and much more the eternal, judgments that fell upon the great body of the Jewish nation, would not incomparably prefer the state of those, who are persecuted unto death, before that of their proud oppressors? Let us then improve “this our accepted time, our day of salvation.” Let us be earnest in fleeing from the wrath to come, and in laying hold on eternal life: so shall we have reason for triumph, though in the most afflictive circumstances; and shall rejoice for ever in the presence of our God, when all others shall be “cast into that lake of fire, where is weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Luke 19:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/luke-19.html. 1832.

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