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MATT. XXIII. 37–39.
• O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the pro
phets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
This is inimitably beautiful and pathetic. It is highly impassioned, but perfectly natural, and pre-eminently touching, on account of its simplicity. Ponderosity of words and laboured expression are often associated with philosophy; and it would seem as though splendour of conception required pomp of diction to lend it full majesty in general estimation. The sublimity of those truths which dropped from the lips of Jesus disdained all affectation—and his mild and benign spirit diffusing itself over all his sentiments, became imparted to all his communications, and appeared conspicuously in the graceful ease of his language. In the deep intonation of passion, men are sometimes transported into excess; and almost all imitations of it are characterized by extravagance — the sentimental degenerates into the tragical; and thus the artificial is easily distinguished from that which is pure and natural; the struggle to produce effect, destroys it; and the heart refuses to recognise what was bred only in the fancy. To the Son of God, in his earthly pilgrimage, there were some few occasions on which he discovered powerful excitement; and this is one of them. Surrounded by the Scribes and Pharisees, the professed expounders and exemplars of the law, the self-elected guardians of public morals—the admitted associates of the appointed rulers of the nation—and enrolled among them on their seats of magistracy-enjoying a monopoly of public honour and distinction, of which they were extremely jealous, and affecting these with the most glaring ostentation; these pretensions were designed to cover and conceal the most cruel oppressions, the most detestable hypocrisy, the deepest malignity, and the most reckless vices— even the eye of man sometimes penetrated the veil of dissimulation ; but the hand of Jesus, to whom the fermenting corruptions of the heart were all visible, lifted it up at once, and exposed
the hidden atrocities in all their frightful deformity. His righteous spirit kindled within him, and he suddenly stood in the midst of them as though he were clothed afresh with all the terrors of that majesty with which the violated law was originally given: they seemed again to behold the blaze of those lightnings which played round the summit of Sinai, and again to hear those awful sounds of the trumpet, the thunder, and the voice of insupportable dread, which broke from the tabernacle of clouds and darkness pitched upon it, while he poured woe upon woe into their guilty and appalled consciences—and the sentence which he pronounced rung through the chambers of their bosom, like that shout of the Archangel which shall rouse the dead from their sepulchres. Here every thing displays the powerful feeling, no less than the personal dignity of the speaker, and the whole subsides in that burst of impassioned tenderness -- “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not ! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”
The subject assigned me for discussion this day is,--The Aspect of Prophecy respecting the present and future state of the Jews. And the reasons for the selection of the passage which I have chosen upon which to found this discussion, are two-fold. First, the authority impressed upon it—it is the language of him who is “ faithful and true ;" to whom all the prophets gave witness—whose interpretation of Scripture must be deemed decisive, and who thus seals the prophetic testimony by his own declaration.Secondly, the fact that it distinctly adverts to both the topics comprehended in the subjectthe present state of the Jews, “ Behold, your house is left unto you desolate;" and their future prospects, “ Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” In relation to these two great principles, established upon such authority, it will be expected that I should examine the general aspect of prophecy; which I shall attempt, in four propositions.
FIRST,— That they are dispersed in consequence of their sins; their rejection of the Messiah filling up the measure of their iniquities.
It is evident that I must make a selection of prophecies on every part of this discussion; because the whole body of scriptural predictions relative to the Jews, could not pass under review,