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of heaven for our reception. The one weeps over depressed, trembling, subjugated foes, who will not insult and who cannot injure him: the other weeps over those who, he certainly knows, will in a few days cover him with reproaches and ignominies, torture him by the most refined cruelties, and inflict upon him a painful and accursed death. Yes! I repeat it; “ a greater than” Marcellus is here!" If Marcellus acted as a generous man, Christ acted as a God-man. 66 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 that belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.":
Come then, my brethren, let us carefully contemplate the conduct and expressions of our Lord on this occasion ; and whilst we are thus employed, grant, most merciful Jesus! that we may not be insensible to thy tears, but may be induced to lament those transgressions which caused thee to weep, and savingly to improve the day of our visitation.
Our discourse shall have two parts : we shall,
I. Explain to you the causes of the Saviour's tears, and the purport of the words which he uttered; and
II. We shall deduce from these tears and these words, some important truths, in which we are deeply interested.
1. “ When he beheld the city, he wept over it.” Are you surprised to see the Saviour weep? Do you suppose this a weakness inconsistent with his dignity and elevation? Thus thought a sect of ancient heretics, mentioned by ecclesiastical historians, who erased from their copies of the scriptures all those parts which speak of the tears of Jesus. I know not whether more to admire their presumption or their
folly; their presumption, in daring to alter the perfect character of Jesús; their folly in supposing that the Saviour would be more noble, if he were divested of his overflowing benevolence, and endued with a stoical apathy. If the tears of Jesus had been wrung from him by his own distresses, they would perhaps have displayed some weakness. But he always met his own woes with a firm soul and a dry eye. When arraigned at a criminal bar; when buffeted, insulted, scourged, he is undaunted and serene; when labouring under the weight of his cross, and in the prospect of immediate execution, he says to the afflicted spectators, with an unfaltering voice, Weep not for me; weep for yourselves.". No, no! his tears never flowed but from his sympathy with the unhappy or perishing; they aitest his grace, they endear him to the believer; and I had far rather that the most splendid of his miracles should be erased from the sacred volume, than that we should be ignorant that Jesus wept.
But what were those circumstances which caused the tears to gush from his eyes at this time? These three: 1. The prospect of the temporal calamities which hung over Jerusalem. 2. The consideration of those sins of which these calamities were the punishment, and of that eternal destruction of which they were the emblem. 3. The reflection that the time in which it was possible to avert these woes had now past.
1. That the Saviour had regard to the temporal calamities which were just descending on this devoted city, is evident from the verses immediately following the text : “ For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on
every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” Possessed of infinite knowledge, seeing the future as distinctly as the present, he already beheld those fearful scenes which attended the destruction of Jerusalem, and of which the Jewish historian has given us so lamentable a description. He saw war mowing down thousands, and famine and sedition destroying those whom war had spared. He saw the flames seizing upon the towers, the walls, the habitations, and not respecting even the temple of God. He saw those countless numbers which were put to the sword ; those carcases heaped upon carcases ; those waves of blood which deluged the city. He saw those eleven hundred thousand persons who perished during this season of distress; the hundred thousand persons who were loaded with chains, and carried into painful captivity. All these miseries and many others which befell Jerusalem, before it was utterly destroyed, were present to the view of the Redeemer. Was it then wonderful that he poured forth his tears?
2. But this was not the only, nor even the principal cause of the tears of the Saviour. Combining the cause with the effect, beholding not only these temporal judgments, but also the iniquities of which they were the punishment; seeing the eternal torments which awaited these unhappy men in the world of spirits, as well as the woes which they would endure on this side the grave; regarding sin as the greatest of evils, and the everlasting agonies of the soul as far more lamentable than the transient sufferings of this life; it is evident that the principal cause of his tears was the prospect of those sins, which drew down these temporal calamities, and of that future punishment, of which they were only the earnests. He saw the obstinacy, the impenitence, the hardness of heart, the numberless crimes of the Jewish people: he saw the deep guilt of iniquity: he saw the hell which was prepared for those who persist in it. No veil interposed between his eyes and the future; he beheld these things, not in distant prospect, but as already happening. Already he saw these wretched men condemned; already he beheld them enwrapped in the flames. Was it surprising that he should weep at scenes so doleful? If David poured forth his tears for the death of one rebellious son, much more would the compassionate Lord of David weep at the eternal perdition of so many thousands.
3. Still there would have been less cause for grief, if an opportunity of averting these jndgments had remained unto them. But this opportunity was for ever lost. They had neglected the time of their visitation, and the things which belonged to their peace were hidden from their eyes. They had filled up the measure of their iniquities; the mercy of God had ceased to plead for them; justice had raised its arm, red with vengeance, to dart its thunders; their sentence had been pronounced, and it was irrevocable. Oh! how must this consideration have affected the compassionate heart of the Saviour!
Such then were the causes of the tears which Jesus shed over Jerusalem! But he not only wept, he likewise uttered this pathetic lamentation : “ If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace ; but now they are hid from thine eyes." What could he possibly have said that would have been more expressive or affecting? He begins a sentence, but overcome by the violence of his feelings cannot finish it, and leaves the imagination to supply what the tongue cannot utter. There is not a word but what speaks to the heart. “ If thou hadst known, even thou.” There is in this repetition a touching tenderness, and force of expostulation. It is as though Jesus had said, “I am less grieved and surprised at the iniquities of other nations, to which I have manifested less affection, and on which I have conferred fewer privileges; but thou, muchfavoured, much-beloved Zion; thou, who hast been the seat of my temple, the habitation of my prophets, the sanctuary of my religion, the receiver of my mercies; thou, whom I have always watched, and nourished, and blessed; wilt thou, even thou, criminally neglect thy privileges, and obstinately rush on to perdition?' “ If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day,” that is, in that period when God still proffered salvation to thee; when the patience of the Lord was not yet exhausted; when the dreadful sentence had not yet been pronounced, “ Let him that is filthy be filthy still:” (Rev. xxii. 11.) · Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone :” (Hos. iv. 17.) “ Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, therefore I will not purge thee from thy sing any more till I cause my fury to rest upon thee:” (Ezek. xxiv. 13.) This day, for Jerusalem, had now past; the prediction of the prophet was now to be accomplished: “ The time is come, the day of trouble is near.