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resolution; bứt, as one well acquainted with the mind and practice of his Maker, he answers, Yes.
There was no truer paymaster of the king's dues, than he that was King of kings. Well did Peter know that he did not only give, but preach tribute. When the Herodians laid twigs for hiin, as supposing that so great a Prophet would be all for the liberty and exemption of God's chosen people, he choaks them with their own coin, and told them the stamp argued the right: “Give unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's.”
O Saviour, how can thy servants challenge that freedom which thyself had not? Who, that pretends from thee, can claim homage from those to whom thou gavest it? If thou, by whom kings reign, forbearest not to pay tribute to an heathen prince, what power under thee can deny it to those that rule for thee?
That demand was made without doors. No sooner is Peter come in, than he is prevented by his Master's question, “ What thinkest thou, Simon, of whom do the kings of the earth receive tribute? of their own children, or of strangers ?" This very interrogation was answer enough to that wbich Peter meant to move: he, that could thus know the heart, was not, in true light, liable to human exactions.
But, O Saviour, may I presume to ask, what this is to thee? Thou hast said, My kingdoin is not of this world;" how doth it concern thee what is done by the kings of the earth; or imposed upon the sons of earthly kings ? thou wouldst be the son of an humble virgin, and choosest not a royal state, but a servile. I dispute not thy natural right to the throne, by thy lineal descent from the loins of Judah and David : what should I plead that which thou wavest? It is thy divine royaity and sonship which thou here justly urgest; the argument is irrefragable and convictive. If the kings of the earth do so privilege their children, that they are free from all tributes and impositions, how much more shall the King of heaven give this inmunity to his only and natural Son? so as in true reason, I might challenge an exemption for me and my train. Thou mightst, O Saviour, and no less challenge a tribute of all the kings of the earth to thee, by whom all powers are ordained: reason cannot mutter against this. claim ; the creature owes itself, and whatsoever it hatb, to the Maker, he owes nothing to it. " Then are the children free,” He, that bath right to all, needs not pay anything, else there should be a subjection in sovereignty, and men should be debitors to themselves. But this right was thine own peculiar, and admits no partners; why dost thou speak, of children, as of more, and, extending this privilege to Peter, sayst,“ Lest we scandalize them?”. Was it for that thy disciples, being of thy robe, might justly seem interested in the liberties of their Master: surely no otherwise were they children, no otherways free. Away with that fanatical conceit, which challenges an immunity from secular commands and taxes, to a spiritual and adoptive sonship: no earthly saintship can exempt us from tribute to whom tribute belongeth. There is a freedom, O Saviour, which our Christianity calls us to affect; a freedom from the yoke of sin and Satan, from the servitude of our corrupt affections: we cannot be sons, if we be not thus free. O free thou us, by thy free Spirit, from the miserable bondage of our nature, so shall the children be free. But as, from these secular duties, no man is less free than the children: 0 Saviour, thou wert free, and wouldst not be so; thou wert free by natural right, wouldst not be free by voluntary dispensation. f" Lest an offence might be taken.”. Surely had there followed an offence, it had been taken only, and not given. “Woe be to the man by whom the offence cometh :" it cometh by him that gives it, it cometh by him that takes it, when it is not given: no part of this blame could have cleaved unto thee either way. Yet such was thy goodness, that thou wouldst not suffer an offence unjustly taken, at that which thou mightst justly have denied. How jealous should we be even of others' perils ! how careful so to moderate our power in the use of lawful things, that our charity may prevent others' scandals! to remit of our own right for another's safety! O the deplorable condition of those wilful men, wbo care not what blocks they lay in the way to heaven, not forbearing, by a known lewdness, to draw others into their own damnation !
To avoid the unjust offence, even of very Publicans, Jesus will work a miracle. Peter is sent to the sea, and that not with a net, but with an hook. The disciple was now in his own trade. He knew a net might inclose many fishes, an hook could take but one: with that hook must he go angle for the tribute-money. A fish shall bring him a stater in her mouth; and that fish that bites first. What an unusual bearer is here! what an unlikely element to yield a piece of ready coin!
o that omnipotent power, which could command the fish to be both his treasurer to keep his silver, and his purveyor to bring it! Now whether, O Saviour, thou causedst this fish to take up that shekel out of the bottom of the sea; or whether by thine almighty word thou madest it in an instant in the mouth of that fish, it is neither possible to determine; nor necessary to enquire! I rather adore thine infinite knowledge and power, that couldst make use of unlikeliest means; that couldst serve thyself of the very fishes of the sea, in a business of earthly and civil employment. It was not out of need that thou didst this; though I do not find that thou ever affectedst a full purse. What veins of gold, or mines of silver, did not lie open to thy command? but out of a desire to teach Peter, that while he would be tributary to Cæsar, the very fish of the sea was tributary to him. How should this encourage our dependance upon that omnipotent hand of thine, which hath heaven, earth, sea, at thy disposing! Still thou art the same for thy members, which thou wert for thyself, the Head. Rather than offence shall be given to the world by a seeming neglect of thy dear children, thou wilt cause the very fowls of heaven; to bring them meat, and the fish of the sea to bring them money. O let us look up ever to thee by the eye of our faith, and not be wanting in our dependance upon thee, who canst not be wanting in thy providence over us.
O THE wisdom of God in penning his own story! The disciple whom Jesus loved comes after his fellow-evangelists, that he might glean up those rich ears of history which the rest had passed over that eagle soars high, and towers up by degrees. It was much to turn water into wine; but it was more to feed five thousand with five loaves. It was much to restore the ruler's son; it was more to cure him that had been thirty-eight years a cripple. It was much to cure him that was born blind; it was more to raise up Lazarus that had been so long dead. As a stream runs still the stronger and wider, the nearer it comes to the ocean whence
it was derived; so didst thou, O Saviour, work the more powerfully the nearer thou drewest to thy glory. This was, as one of thy last, so of thy greatest miracles; when thou wert ready to die thyself, thou raisedst him to life who smelt strong of the grave. None of all the sacred bistories is so full and punctual as this, in the report of all circumstances. Other miracles do not more transcend nature, than this transcends other miracles.
This alone was a sufficient eviction of thy Godhead, 0 blessed Saviour: none but an infinite power could so far go beyond nature, as to recall a man four days dead, from, not a 'mere privation, but a settled corruption. Earth must needs be thine, from which thou raisest his body; heaven must needs be thine, from whence thou fetchest his Spirit. None but he that created man, could thus make him new.
Sickness is the common preface to death; no mortal nature is exempted from this complaint ; even Lazarus, whoni Jesus loved, is sick. What can strength of grace, or dearness of respect prevail against disease, against dissolution?
It was a stirring message that Mary sent to Jesus,“ He whom thou lovest is sick :" as if she would imply, that his part was no less deep in Lazarus than hers. Neither doth she say, He that loves thee is sick ; but," he whom thou lovest:" not pleading the merit of Lazarus's affection to Christ, but the mercy and favour of Christ to him. Even that other reflection of love had been no weak motive; for, O Lord, thou hast said, “ Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him.” Thy goodness will not be behind us for love, who professeth to love them that love thee. But yet the argument is more forcible from thy love to us, since thou hast just reason to respect every thing of thine own, more than ought that can proceed from us. Even we weak men, what can we stick at where we love? Thou, O infinite God, art love itself. Whatever thou hast done for us is out of thy love; the ground and motive of all thy mercies is within thyself
, not in us, and if there be ought in us worthy of thy love, it is thine own, not ours; thou givest what thou acceptest. Jesus well heard the first groan of his dear Lazarus ; every short breath that he drew, every sigh that he gave was upon account; yet this Lord of life lets his Lazarus sicken, and languish, and die; not out of neglect or impotence, but out of power and resolution. “ This sickness is not to death.” He, to whom the issues of death belong, knows the way both into it and out of it. He meant that sickness should be to death, in respect of the present condition, not to death in respect of the event ; to death, in the process of nature, not to death in the success of his divine power, " that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” O Saviour, thy usual style is the Son of Man; thou that wouldst take up our infirmities, wert willing thus to hide thy Godhead under the coarse weeds of our humanity; but here thou sayst, “ That the Son of God might be glorified.” Though thou wouldst hide thy divine glory, yet thou wouldst not smother it. Sometimes thou wouldst have thy sun break forth in bright gleams, to shew that it hath no less light even while it seems kept in by the clouds. Thou wert now near thy passion ; it was most seasonable for thce at this time to set forth thy just title. Neither was this an act that thy humanity could challenge to itself, but far transcending all finite powers. To die was an act of the Son of Man, to raise from death was an act of the Son of God.
Neither didst thou say merely that God, but “That the Son of God might be glorified.”. God cannot be glorified; unless the Son be so. In very natural relations the wrong or disrespect offered to the child reflects upon the father; as, contrarily, the parents upon the child; how much more, wbere the love and respect is infinite; where the whole essence is communicated with the entireness of relation?
O God, in vain shall we tender our devotions to thee indefinitely, as to a glorious and incomprehensible Majesty, if we kiss not the Son, who hath most justly said, “ Ye believe in the Father, believe also in Me.”
What an happy family was this ! I find none upon earth so much honoured; “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” It is no standing upon terms of precedency: the Spirit of God is not curious in marshalling of places. Time was when Mary was confessed to have chosen the better part; here Martha is named first, as most interested in Christ's love; for ought appears, all of them were equally dear. Christ had familiarly lodged under their roof. How fit was that to receive him, whose indwellers were hospital, pious, unanimous ! hospital, in the glad entertainment of Jesus and his train; pious, in their devotions ; unanimous, in their mutual concord. As, contrarily, he baulks and hates