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of any defect in themselves, they had never | the outside of our actions ; or for that waste asked the question: little did they think to wind of applause which vanisheth in the hear of their unbelief. Had they not had | lips of the speaker? Thine eye, O Lord, great faith, they could not have cast out is piercing and retributive. As to see thee any devils; had they not had some want of | is perfect happiness, so to be seen of thee faith, they had cast out this. It is possible | is true contentment and glory. for us to be defective in some graces, and And dost thou, O God, see what we give not to feel it.
thee, and not see what we take away from Although not so much their weakness is thee? are our offerings more noted than our guilty of this unprevailing, as the strength / sacrileges ? Surely thy mercy is not more of that evil spirit : “ This kind goes not out quick-sighted than thy justice. In both but by prayer and fasting.” Weaker spirits kinds our actions are viewed, our account were wont to be ejected by a command; is kept; and we are as sure to receive re. this devil was more sturdy and boisterous. wards for what we have given, as vengeAs there are degrees of statures in men, so ance for what we have defaulked. With there are degrees of strength and rebellion thine eye of knowledge thou seest all we in spiritual wickednesses. Here, bidding do; but what we do well, thou seest with will not serve; they must pray, and pray- an eye of approbation. So didst thou now ing will not serve without fasting. They behold these pious and charitable oblations. must pray to God that they may prevail ; | How well wert thou pleased with this va. they must fast to make their prayer more riety! Thou sawest many rich men give fervent, more effectual: we cannot now much, and one poor widow give more than command; we can fast and pray. How good they in lesser room. is our God to us, that while he hath not The Jews were now under the Roman thought fit to continue to us those means pressure: they were all tributaries, yet many which are less powerful for the dispossess of them rich, and those rich men were liberal ing of the powers of darkness, yet hath he to the common chest. Hadst thou seen given us the greater! While we can fast and those many rich give little, we had heard of pray, God will command for us, Satan can | thy censure; thou expectest a proportion not prevail against us.
betwixt the giver and the gift, betwixt the gift and the receipt ; where that fails, the
blame is just. That nation, though otherCONTEMPLATION XX.—THE WIDOW'S MITES. ways faulty enough, was in this commend
able. How bounteously open were their The sacred wealth of the temple was hands to the house of God! Time was either in stuff or in coin; for the one, the when their liberality was fain to be reJews had a house; for the other, a chest. strained by proclamation; and now it needed At the concourse of all the males to the no incitement; the rich gave much, the temple thrice a-year, upon occasion of the poorest gave more: “He saw a poor widow solemn feasts, the oblations of both kinds casting in two mites.” It was misery enough were liberal. Our Saviour, as taking plea- that she was a widow. The married woman sure in the prospect, sets himself to view is under the careful provision of a husband; those offerings, whether for holy uses or if she spend, he earns: in that estate, four charitable.
hands work for her; in her widowhood, but Those things we delight in, we love to two. Poverty added to the sorrow of her behold; the eye and the heart will go to-widowhood. The loss of some husbands gether. And can we think, O Saviour, that is supplied by a rich jointure: it is some thy glory hath diminished aught of thy gra. | allay to the grief, that the hand is left full, cious respects to our beneficence? or, that though the bed be empty. This woman thine acceptance of our charity was confined was not more desolate than needy; yet this to the earth? Even now, that thou sittest poor widow gives; and what gives she? at the right hand of thy Father's glory, an offering like herself — two mites ;" or, thou seest every hand that is stretched out in our language, two half-farthing-tokens. to the relief of thy poor saints here be- Alas! good woman, who was poorer than low. And if vanity have power to stir up thyself? wherefore was that corban but for our liberality, out of a conceit to be seen the relief of such as thou? who should re. of men, how shall faith encourage our ceive, if such give? Thy mites were somecounty in knowing that we are seen of thee, thing to thee, nothing to the treasury. and accepted by thee? Alas! what are we How ill is that gift bestowed, which disfur. the better for the notice of those perishing nisheth thee, and adds nothing to the comand impotent eyes, which can only view | mon stock! some thrifty neighbour might, perhaps, have suggested this probable dis- | near their end, and ready to make their will, couragement. Jesus publishes and applauds then is it seasonable to sue for legacies. her bounty: “ He called his disciples, and Thus did the mother of the two Zebe. said unto them, Verily I say unto you, this dees; therein well approving both her wiswoman hath cast in more than they all.” dom and her faith : wisdom in the fit choice While the rich put in their offerings, I see of her opportunity; faith, in taking such no disciples called; it was enough that an opportunity. Christ noted their gifts alone: but when the The suit is half obtained that is seasonwidow comes with her two mites, now the ably made. To have made this motion, at domestics of Christ are summoned to as the entry into their attendance, had been semble, and taught to admire this munifi. absurd, and had justly seemed to challenge cence; a solemn preface makes way to her a denial. It was at the parting of the angel praise, and her mites are made more pre- that Jacob would be blessed. The double cious than the others' talents: “She gave spirit of Elijah is not sued for till his asmore than they all;" more, not only in re- cending. spect of the mind of the giver, but of the But O the admirable faith of this good proportion of the gift as hers. A mite to woman! When she heard the discourse her was more than pounds to them: pounds of Christ's sufferings and death, she talks were little to them, two mites were all to of his glory; when she hears of his cross, her; they gave out of their abundance, she she speaks of his crown. If she had seen out of her necessity. That which they gave Herod come and tender his sceptre unto Jeft the heap less, yet a heap still; she gives Christ, or the elders of the Jews come upon all at once, and leaves herself nothing. So their knees with a submissive proffer of as she gave not more than any, but “more their allegiance, she might have had some than they all.” God doth not so much re- reason to entertain the thoughts of a kinggard what is taken out, as what is left. O dom : but now, while the sound of betrayFather of mercies ! thou lookest at once into ing, suffering, dying, was in her ear, to make the bottom of her heart and the bottom of account of, and sue for a room in his kingher purse, and esteemest her gift according dom, it argues a belief able to triumph over to both. As thou seest not as man, so thou all discouragements. valuest not as man: man judgeth by the It was nothing for the disciples, when worth of the gift, thou judgest by the mind they saw him after his conquest of death, of the giver, and the proportion of the re- and rising from the grave, to ask him — mainder. It were wide with us, if thou “ Master, wilt thou now restore the kingshouldst go by quantities. Alas! what have dom unto Israel ?" but for a silly woman to we but mites, and those of thine own lend look through his future death and passion, ing? It is the comfort of our meanness, at his resurrection and glory, it is no less that our affections are valued, and not our worthy of wonder than praise. presents: neither hast thou said, “ God | To hear a man in his best health and loves a liberal giver, but a cheerful.” If I vigour to talk of his confidence in God, and had more, O God, thou shouldst have it; assurance of divine favour, cannot be much had I less, thou wouldst not despise it, who worth: but if in extremities we can believe “ acceptest the gift according to that a man | above hope, against hope, our faith is so hath, and not according to that he hath much more noble as our difficulties are not."
greater. Yea, Lord, what have I but two mites, Never sweeter perfume arose from any a soul and a body ? mere mites, yea, not so altar than that which ascended from Job's much, to thine infiniteness. O that I could | dunghill : “I know that my Redeemer perfectly offer them up unto thee, accord-liveih." ing to thine own right in them, and not ac What a strange style is this that is given cording to mine. How graciously wouldst to this woman! It had been as easy to thou be sure to accept them ! how happy have said, the wife of Zebedee, or the sis. shall I be in thine acceptation !
ter of Mary or of Joseph, or, as her name was, plain Salome; but now, by an unusual
description, she is styled “ The Mother of CONTEMPLATION XXI. THE AMBITION OF Zebedee's children." Zebedee was an obTHE TWO SONS OF ZEBEDEE.
scure man; she, as his wife, was no bet
ter: the greatest honour she ever had, or Ile who has his own time and ours in could have, was to have two such sons as his hand, foreknew and foretold the ap- James and John ; these give a title to both proach of his dissolution. When men are their parents. Honour ascends as well as descends. Holy children dignify the loins | lenge of Christ, might seem to give her just and wombs from whence they proceed, no colour of more familiarity; yet now, tha less than their parents traduce honour unto she comes upon a suit, she submits here them. Salome might be a good wife, a to the lowest gesture of suppliants. We good housewife, a good woman, a good need not be taught, that it is fit for petitiosneighbour; all these cannot ennoble her so ers to the great, to present their humble much as the “ The Mother of Zebedee's supplications upon their knees. O Saviour, children."
if this woman, so nearly allied to thee x, What a world of pain, toil, care, cost, cording to the flesh, coming but upon : there is in the birth and education of chil temporal occasion to thee, being as the dren! Their good proof requites all with compassed about with human infirmites advantage : next to happiness in ourselves, adored thee ere she durst sue to thee, whe is to be happy in a gracious issue.
reverence is enough for us, that come to tbee The suit was the sons', but by the mouth upon spiritual suits, sitting now in the heigt of their mother: it was their best policy to of heavenly glory and majesty ? Say the speak by her lips. Even these fishermen thou wife of Zebedee, what is it that than had already learned craftily to fish for pro- cravest of thine omnipotent kinsman? “ A motion. Ambition was not so bold in them certain thing." Speak out, woman! why as to show her own face: the envy of the is this certain thing that thou craveg? suit shall thus be avoided, which could not | How poor and weak is this supplicator but follow upon their personal request. If anticipation to Him that knew thy thoughts it were granted, they had what they would; ere thou utteredst them, ere thou eutere if not, it was but the repulse of a woman's tainedst them! We are all in this ture: motion, which must needs be so much more every one would have something, such per pardonable, because it was of a mother for haps as we are ashamed to utter. The her sons.
proud man would have a certain thingIt is not discommendable in parents to | honour in the world; the covetous would seek the preferment of their children. Why have a certain thing too wealth and abunmay not Abraham sue for an Ishmael? so dance; the malicious would have a certas it be by lawful means, in a moderate mea | thing-revenge on his enemies; the epicure sure, in due order, this endeavour cannot be would have pleasure and long life; the bar. amiss. It is the neglect of circumstances ren, children; the wanton, beauty. Each that makes the desire sinful. O the mad. | one would be humoured in his own desire, ness of those parents that care not which though in variety, yea, contradiction to way they raise a house; that desire rather other; though in opposition not more to to leave their children great than good; God's will than our own good. that are more ambitious to have their sons How this suit sticks in her teeth, and lords on earth, than kings in heaven! Yet dares not freely come forth, because it is I commend thee, Salome, that thy first plot guilty of its own faultiness! What a differwas to have thy sons disciples of Christ;ence there is betwixt the prayers of faith, then after to prefer them to the best places and the motions of self-love and infidelity! of that attendance. It is the true method Those come forth with boldness, as knot. of divine prudence, O God, first to make ing their own welcome, and being well our children happy with the honour of thy sured both of their warrant and acceptation: service, and then to endeavour their meet these stand blushing at the door, not daring advancement upon earth.
to appear, like to some baffled suit, conThe mother is put upon this suit by her scious to its own unworthiness and just re. sons; their heart was in her lips. They pulse. Our inordinate desires are worthy of were not so mortified by their continual a check: when we know that our requests conversation with Christ, hearing his hea- are holy, we cannot come with too much venly doctrine, seeing his divine carriage, confidence to the throne of grace. but ihat their minds were yet roving after He that knew all their thoughts afar off, temporal honours: pride is the inmost coat yet, as if he had been a stranger to their which we put off last, and which we put purposes, asks,“ What wouldst thou on first. Who can wonder to see some Our infirmities do then best shame us, when sparks of weak and worldly desires in their they are fetched out of our own mouths; holiest teachers, when the blessed apostles | likeas our prayers also serve not to acquaint were not free from some ambitious thoughts, God with our wants, but to make us the while they sat at the feet, yea, in the bosoin more capable of his mercies. of their Saviour?
The suit is drawn from her; now she DIN The near kindred this woman could cbal. I speak: • Grant that these my two sulis
may sit, one on thy right hand, the other shall be her ears. God ever imputes the on thy left, in thy kingdom;" it is hard to acts to the first mover, rather than to the say whether out of more pride or ignorance. | instrument. It was as received as erroneous a conceit It was a sore check, “ Ye know not what among the disciples of Christ, that he should ye ask.” In our ordinary communication, raise up a temporal kingdom over the now to speak idly is sin; but, in our suits to tributary and enslaved people of Israel. Christ, to be so inconsiderate as not to unThe Romans were now their masters; their derstand our own petitions, must needs be fancy was, that their Messias should shake a foul offence. As faith is the ground of off this yoke, and reduce them to their for our prayers, so knowledge is the ground of mer liberty. So grounded was this opinion, our faith. If we come with indigested rethat the two disciples, in their walk to Em-quests, we profane that name we invoke. maus, could say, “ We trusted it had been To convince their unfitness for glory, he that should have delivered Israel;" and they are sent to their impotency in sufferwhen, after his resurrection, he was walk-ing; “ Are ye able to drink of the cup ing up Mount Olivet towards lieaven, his whereof I shall drink, and to be baptized very apostles could ask him, if he would with the baptism wherewith I am baptized ?" now restore that long expected kingdom. O Saviour, even thou, who wert one with How should we mitigate our censures of thy Father, hadst a cup of thine own: our Christian brethren, if either they mis- never potion was so bitter as that which take, or know not some secondary truths of was mixed for thee. Yea, even thy draught religion, when the domestic attendants of is stinted : it is not enough for thee to sip Christ, who heard him every day till the of this cup; thou must drink it up to the very point of his ascension, misapprehended very dregs. When the vinegar and gall the chief cause of his coming into the world, | were tendered to thee by men, thou didst and the state of his kingdom! If our cha. but kiss the cup; but when thy Father rity may not bear with small faults, what gave into thine hands a potion infinitely do we under his name that connived at more distasteful, thou, for our health, didst greater! Truth is, as the sun, bright in drink deep of it, even to the bottom, and itself; yet there are many close corners into saidst, “ It is finished." And can we rewhich it never shined. O God, if thou pine at those unpleasing draughts of afflicopen our hearts, we shall take in those tion that are tempered for us sinful men, beams: till thou do so, teach us to attend when we see thee, the Son of thy Father's patiently for ourselves, charitably for others. love, thus dieted? We pledge thee, O
These fishermen had so much courtship | blessed Saviour, we pledge thee, according to know, that the right hand and the left of to our weakness, who hast begun to us in any prince were the chief places of honour. thy powerful sufferings. Only do thou enOur Saviour had said, that his twelve fol. able us, after some sour faces made in our lowers should sit upon twelve thrones, and reluctation, yet at last willingly to pledge judge the twelve tribes of Israel. This thee in our constant sufferings for thee. good woman would have her two sons next | As thou must be drenched within, so to his person, the prime peers of his king- must thou be baptized without. Thy bap dom. 'Every one is apt to wish the best tism is not of water, but of blood; both to his own. Worldly honour is neither these came from thee in thy passion: we worth our suit, nor unworthy our accept-cannot be thine, if we partake not of both. ance. Yea, Salome, had thy mind been in If thou hast not grudged thy precious blood heaven, hadst thou intended this desired to us, well mayest thou challenge some pre-eminence of that celestial state of glory, worthless drops from us. yet I know not how to justify thine ambi When they talk of thy kingdom, thou tion. Wouldst thou have thy sons pre-speakest of thy bitter cup, of thy bloody ferred to the “father of the faithful,” to the baptism. Suffering is the way to reigning. blessed mother of thy Saviour? That very “Through many tribulations must we enter wish were presumptuous. For me, O God, into the kingdom of heaven." There was my ambition shall go so high as to be a saint never wedge of gold that did not first pass in heaven, and to live as holily on earth as the fire ; there was never pure grain that the best: but for precedency of heavenly did not undergo the flail. In vain shall we honour, I do not, I dare not, affect it. It dream of our immediate passage, from the is enough for me, if I may lift up my head pleasures and jollity of earth, to the glory amongst the heels of thy blessed ones. of heaven. Let who will hope to walk upon
The mother asks; the sons have the roses and violets to the throne of heaven : answer. She was but their tongue; they | D Saviour, let me trace thee by the track of thy blood, and by thy red steps follow and familiarity than to sit by thee: “ If we thee to thine eternal rest and happiness! | suffer with tnee, we shall also reign to
I know this is no easy task, else thou gether with thee." What greater promotion hadst never said, “ Are ye able?" Who can flesh and blood be capable of, than a should be able, if not they that had been conformity to the Lord of glory: Enable so long blessed with thy presence, informed thou me to drink of thy cup, and then set by thy doctrine, and, as it were, beforehand me where thou wilt. possessed of their heaven in thee? Thou But, () Saviour, while thou dignifiest hadst never made them judges of their them in thy grant, dost thon disparage thiv. power, if thou couldst not have convinced self in thy denial : “ Not mine to yive!" them of their weakness. Alas! how full of whose is it, it not thine? If it be thy Fa. feebleness is our body, and our mind of im. ther's, it is thine. Thon, who are truth patience! If but a bee sting our flesh, it bath said, “I and my Father are one." suells; and if but a tooth ache, the head Yea, because thou art one with the Father, and heart complain. How small irifles make it is not thine to give to any save those for us weary of ourselves! What can we do whom it is prepared of the Father. The without thee? without thee, what can we Father's preparation was thin?, his gift is suffer? If thou be not, O Lord, strong in thine: the decree of both is one. That my weakness, I cannot be so much as weak, eternal counsel is not alterable upon our I cannot so much as be. O do thou pre vain desires. The Father gives these hea. pare me for my day, and enable me to my venly honours to none but by thee: thou trials! “I can do all things through thee givest them to none but according to the that strengthenest me."
decree of thy Father. Many degrees there The motion of the two disciples was not are of celestial happiness. Those supernal more full of infirmity than their answer, mansions are not all of a height. That • We are able :" out of an eager desire of Providence which hath varied our stations the honour, they are apt to undertake the upon earth, hath pre-ordered our seats condition. The best men may be mistaken above. O God, admit me within the walls in their own powers. Alas! poor men ! of thy new Jerusalem, and place me wliere. when it came to the issue, they ran away, i soever thou pleusest and, I know not whither, one without his coat. It is one thing to suffer in speculation, another in practice. There cannot be CONTEMPLATION XXII. -THE TRIBUTEa worse sign, than for a man, in a carnal
MONEY PAID. presumption, to vaunt of his own abilities. How justly doth God suffer that man to be All these other histories report the foiled purposely, that he may be ashamed | power of Christ: this shoss both his power of his own self-confidence. O God, let me and obedience ; his power over the crea. ever be humbly dejected in the sense of cure, bis obedience to civil puwers. Caper. mine own insufficiency; let me give all glory naum was one of his own cities; there he to thee, and take nothing to myself but my made his chief abode in Peter's house : to infirmities.
that host of his, therefore, do the toll-gaO the wonderful mildness of the Son of therers repair for the tribute. When that God! He doth not rate the two disciples, great disciple said, “ We have left all," he either for their ambition in suing, or pre- did not say, We have abandoned all, or sumption in undertaking; but, leaving the sold, or given away all; but we have left. worst, he takes the best of their answer, in respect of managing, not of possession; and omitting their errors, encourages their not in respect of riglic, but of use and pregood intentions : “ Ye shall drink indeed sent fruition; so left, that, upon just occaof my cup, and be baptized with my bap-sion, we may resume ; so left, that it is our tism ; but to sit on my right hand and my due, thongli not our business. Doubtless, left, is not mine to give, but to them for he was too wise to give away his own, that whom it is prepared of my Father.” I know he might borrow of a stranger. His own not whether there be more mercy in the roof gave him shelter for the time, and his concession, or satisfaction in the denial. Master with him. Or him, as the house. Were it not a high honour to drink of thy holder, is the tribute required; and by and cup, O Saviour, thou hadst not fore-pro- for himn is it also paid. I inquire not either mised it as a favour. I am deceived, if into the occasion, or the sum. What need what thou grantest were much less than we make this exaction sacrilegions; as if that which ihou deniest. To pledge thee that half-shekel, which was appointed by in thine own cup, is not much less dignity God to be paid by every Israelite to the