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[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, and to let it be seen, "Whose we are, and whom we
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.]
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
g Matt. x. 32, 33.
h 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.
the following address might be omitted.
In this case,
your body and your spirit which are his!." 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."]
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'. 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. It will be proper indeed for you to consider times and places, and sometimes to lay a restraint on your feelings, lest by an unseasonable disclosure of them, you "cast your pearls before swine, that will only turn and rend you".' 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.]
i 1 Cor. vi. 20. m Matt. x. 38.
k Rev. iii. 19.
1 Heb. xiii. 13.
CHRIST'S COMPASSION TO LOST SINNERS.
Luke xix. 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
[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 he not long for the salvation of sinners as much as ever? Does he not look on some, whose day of grace is nearly passed, and say, "O that