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thy Neighbour: Do not put thy Parts to the maintenance of Schism, or the disturbance of the Church, but labour to promote the Peace, Unity, and Edification of it. So lhalt thou avoid the Doom of the slothful, and receive the Reward of the faithful Servant, to enter into his Master's Joy. . * :v .i V ' .
The Gospel for the Tenth Sunday after
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St. Luke xix. 41 47.
wtafl be was come near, be beheld the City, and, weft over it, faying, If thou hadfi known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy Peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come us on thee, 8cc.
THE preceding part of this Chapter acquaints us with Christ's going to Jerusalem, together with the Manner and other Circumstances of his Entrance and Reception into it. '•;
The Gospel for this Day, which immediately follows it, lets us know his Carriage upon his near approach and sight of the City : When he was come near, he beheld the City, and wept over it. The Reason or Motive whereof was, his knowing the fad Fate or, dreadful Destruction ' that would shortly befal it •, of which we read after. The Thoughts of the dismal Miseries and Calamities that were coming upon it, drew Tears from his Eyes, and Compaction from his Heart: and both were attended with a most passionate Wish, that they would yet know and consider before it be too late, what might help to prevent that doleful Ruin, that was hastning upon them. He beheld the City, and wept over it, faying, O that thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy Peace .'
Sure, the Circumstances of their Condition must be very fad and dreadful, when our Saviour could not fee the City without weeping: but that which most of afHncreas'd his Sorrow, was their stupid Senselessness of their Condit tion, that they would not so much as consider, or know the things belonging to their Peace, insomuch that they were now hidden from their! eyes. Their Doom was irreversible, and therefore he pity'd them the more, because they had no Pity for themselves. Now here,
i/f, From our Saviour's weeping over Jerusalem, we may observe his tender Sense and Concern for the Miseries and Calamities of other Men; and that may teach us to shew Pity and Compassion upon the like occasions. Christ was mightily affected with the Evils that befel any •, he wept at the Grave of Latarm, and here we find him weeping for the City of Jerusalem. From his Example we. mav learn the fame Sympathy and Fellow-feeling of others Sufferings, True Religion makes the Heart tender, and apt to commiserate• , it makes the Bowels yearn towards the Miserable, and to bear a share in the Calamities of others. Tis the hard-hearted arid harrow-spirited that cast off all Care or Concern for others Happiness or Misery; and there are but too many such, who is they fare well themselves, care not what becomes of others: but they who shew no mercy, seldom or never find any. Again^ • '•: y 1 :*,
zdly, From our Saviour's passionate Wish, that they had laid hold of those happy Opportunities, which were offer'd to them for their own Safety, we learn his Backwardness to punish, ardhis Willingness to pardon. He doth not idelight in the Death of a Sinner, nor willingly grieve the Children of Men 'j he is troubled and concern'd for their Folly, when he is driven to it, and . bespeaks them as God did Ephraim, How (ljah^I give thee up, O Ephrairu? In like manner our Saviour was deeply affected at the sight of jei rufalem, his Bowels were turn'd Within him, and could not but break into Tears for a City that had made it self ripe for Destruction. O Jerufalem, Jerufalem, (faith he in another place) how dften would shave gatherA thee at a Hm gather et h her Chicken under her wing? mid tlwu wouldst 7/ot. And here, O' that thou hadfl imwn the things, which belong unto thy Peace! which he doubles and trebles with Earnestness and Affection, Even thou, in this thy day. Even theut who hast had so many Admonitions, -so great Obligations, and such plain Directions to prevent these Evils: Even thou•, of whom so great care hath been taken, and to whom so much Mercy hath been shewn, O that thou hadst hearkend to these things, and suffer'd them so far to have prevail'd upon thee, as to avert thine utter Ruin! Once more, Even them, in this thy day ., that is, tho thou hadst neglected many a Call, and let flip many Opportunities, yet 'twas to be wiih'd thou hadst at least minded the main Season, or not suffer'd the last and critical time of thy Welfare or Destruction to pass away unoblerv'd. Al l which shews the merciful and gracious Temper of our Blessed Saviour, and likewise How opposite thereunto those unrelenting Spirits are, who delight in giving trouble, and doing hard things to those of their own kind.
idly, From Christ's wishing in the behalf of Jerusalem, that they had known, in this their day, the things that belong'd to their peace, we learn that all Men, both in their publick and private Capacity, have a Day of Grace, or particular Season of making their peace with God, and preventing their future Ruin. This is here manifestly imply'd, and signifies, that if we have the Wisdom to know, and the Foresight to improve this Opportunity to the best advantage, we may obtain the Favour of God, and secure our everlasting Welfare: for the having this their day for that purpose, was not a Favour peculiar only to Jerusalem, but is a Mercy extended to all Persons and Places to whom God Almighty is pleas'd to allot a particular Time or Season of reconciling themselves to him, and promoting thereby their own Salvation.
Some have observ'd, that even in the Course of worldly Affairs, all Men have some critical Time or Opportunity of making or mending their Fortunes here in this Life which if neglected or let flip, is not easily regain'd. Esau that sold his Birthright for a Mess of Pottage, could not afterward obtain it, tho he sought it carefully with Tears. And we have known many, who have complain'd of the loss of some Seasons and Opportunities of bettering their Conditions, which they could never after recover.
But this is more plainly reveal'd of our future and final State in the World to come; for the Holy Scriptures often mind us of a Day of Grace, or Season of Salvation, in which we are call'd upon to mind the Business of our Souls, and to provide for Eternity. Of this day our Saviour here minds the Inhabitants of Jerusalem; and the Apostle puts all Christians in mind, that whilst it is calfd
to-da\) to-day^ they shovld hearken to the Voice of God, lest their Hearts he harden'd thro the Deceitfulnefs of Sin. Now this Day of Grace and Salvation may be understood either of the whole Space of our Life, which for the Shortness of it, is in Scripture often call'd and compar'd to a Day; or else more particularly, for the present time or instant part of it, which is all that we can call our own, or fafely depend upon .' So the Apostle, Now is the appointed timet now is the Day of Salvation; 2 Cor. 6. 2. Hereafter may be nothing to us, because we are not sure of living to it: the present time is our Opportunity, for we are not certain of any more - , or if our Days be prolong'd, we are not sure that the Means of Grace may be so too, for the Spirit of God will not always strive with us. Now is God's time and ours too, which we are therefore to lay hold of and improve, for we know not how long it may continue: the Day of Grace may be over, before the Days of our Life may be ended, not for want of Mercy and Favour in God, but for want of a Will or Heart to repent, to make us capable of it. The Heart may be harden'd by a Custom in finning, and many by long contracted Habits have outliv'd the Possibility of Repentance; the Conscience may be so sear'd, as with an hot Iron, that nothing can awaken or make any Impression upon it: And therefore, Now whilst 'tis called to-day, we are call'd upon to repent, and to accept of Mercy and Salvation ., and this is our Day, in which we are to know and consider the things that belong unto our Peace.
/\thly, From these Words of our Saviour, But now they are hid from our eyes; we learn the Danger of deferring Repentance, or putting off the Day of Grace; which if let flip, will not be had any more. This was the'wretched and remediless State of Jerusalem, which made our Saviour lament and weep over it: and he who afterwards shed his Blood for their Salvation, here shed his Tears for their Folly in neglecting it. They had their Day of knowing and making their peace with God; but letting flip the Season, they were left for ever to repent without any Hopes of repairing it And 'twill fare no better with us ; if we neglect our time, and let go the Season of finding Mercy, we may never look for it again, but must remain forever in a hopeless and helpless Condition. Opportunities that were once before us will soon flip away, and perhaps look back to deride our Folly in not making better use of them: the
S 4 things things of our Peace, that are now plainly in our sight, will e'er long be hid from our eyes, and then 'twill be too late to amend what we shall for ever lament. This we may easily see here in the case of Jerusalem, of whom we read in the next words,
The Days /ball come upon thee, that thine Enemies shaU cast a Trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every fide, and st)all lay thee even with the Ground, and thy Children within thee; and they stall not leave in thee one Stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy Visitation. This was a Prophecy of the Romans speedy coming to besiege and destroy the City, and all that were in it; which soon after came to pass in all the Particulars of the Prophecy : for Titus the Roman General coming with an Army to besiege Jerusalem, first cast a Trench about it, to cut off all Communication, and intercept Provisions; then he compass'd it round with a Wall thirty nine Furlongs long, containing within it thirteen Castles or Forts, in compass ten Furlongs, all which (as Jofephus tests us ) was finish'd in three Days-, de Bell.Jud.lib.6.cap.%. By this the People were kept in on every fide, there being no possibility of their coming out; which redue'd them to the greatest Distress, even to the eating Dung and Dirt, Hay and Mens Flesh ; yea, and (as Jofephus relates it) Women feeding on their own sucking Children. After which, the City was laid even with the Ground, and the Children within it ^ there being not one Stone left upon another.
But what was the reason of all this Misery and Desolation? Why, that is added in the following words, Because thou kvewest not the time of thy Visitation. They would not know or improve the Time of God's visiting taem in Mercy and Loving-kindness; nor would they consider or prevent the Time of his visiting them with Ven. geance and Destruction, and therefore did all this Distress come upon them. Obstinate and incorrigible Wickednefe exposes Men to the Wrath of God, and the sorest of all his Judgments. The old World for not hearkning to Noah a Preacher of Righteousness, but going on still in their Wickedness, were swept away with a Deluge, and irrecoverably drown'd in Misery imd Perdition. Sodom and Gomorrah, for not amending upon the Admonitions and Example of righteous Lot, were consum'd by a Fire from Heaven; and burning in their Lusts one to another, were made te suffer the Vengeance of eternal Fire. In like, manner,