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THE SINNER HIS OWN DESTROYER. 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 that belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
The character of Him who wept, and the combination of circumstances that caused his weeping, throw around this scene an affecting tenderness which language is inadequate to describe. Christ had said to his disciples, Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man, shall be accomplished. For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked and spitefully entreated, and spitted on: and they shall scourge him and put him to death : and the third day he shall rise again. The Savior had now come near the place of his sorrows and his death ; yet he seems to have forgotten the bitter cup he was so soon to drink; and apparently insensible to the hosannas of the multitude, unhappy Jerusalem engrossed his attention, and awakened his feelings of tenderest compassion. He beheld the city, and wept over it. City once above all cities of the earth beloved of God-city of David--the royal city-city consecrated to God by sacrifices—which hast killed so many prophets, and hast rejected, persecuted, and art about to crucify the Son of God, that thou, even thou, at least in this thy day, hadst known the things that belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. 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
VOL. 9. No. 12.
time of thy visitation. The historians of that age, and the present condition of Jerusalem, inform us how awfully these predictions were fulfilled. The traveller who now visits what was once the glory of the world, discovers little more than a pile of ruins. The marble towers that met the eye of the distant spectator, like mountains of snow reflecting the sun beams-the massive gates overlaid with pure gold—the hosanoas of the multitude, crying, peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces—the smoke of the incense and burnt offering ascending to heaven-all is gore, and the barbarian piiches his tent in the city of God. How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people ! how is she become as a widow ! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the princes, how is she become tributary, She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks : among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her ene. mies! And from the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed : her princes are become like harts that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength before the pursuer.
He beheld the city, and wept over it. The stubborn ingratitude of the people—the long suffering and goodness of God toward them and their fathers-their blindness in rejecting the things which belonged to their peace---the cup of their iniquity about to be filled by the crucifixion of their Lord-their certain and terrible destruction on the earth-their holy city burned with fire--their hopeless condition in the future state-reflections like these rushing together melted into tears the compassionate Savior. 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not ! Behold your house is lest unto desolation : and verily I say unto you, ye shall not see me until the time come when ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
We proceed now to the practical application of the truths contained in this affecting passage.
He beheld the city, and wept over it.
It is not among the least degrading effects of sin, that it produces self-justification, even against the decisions of the understanding and the convictions of conscience. The transgressor finds misery indissolubly connected with sin : but not daring to charge directly on God unrighteousness in inflicting punishment, be creates a kind of inferior, but uncontrollable deity, termed Fate, or Necessity; and this imaginary being is made the author of what he calls his hopeless sufferings. This may seem a plausible method of relieving the character of God from unjust imputations, but in reality it is most dishonorable to his character. The doctrine that we are bound to our sins and the sorrows necessarily resulting from them, either charges God with a want of compassion, or implies that he is not an absolute Sovereign. But what is this fatality, or necessity, which many plead as the ground of disobedience? Does not God rule supreme in wisdom and goodness over all his works? Doeth he not his pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth? When he stretcheth out his hand, can any turn it back? Admit the fact that the present is a state of suffering and trial, it is nevertheless true that all things work together for good to them that love God. And it is also true that there is, for the vilest sinner, a way of escape from this vale of tears to a better country, even an heavenly. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He has sent forth his word, arrayed in the majesty of his own attributes, bearing its appeals to every want and wo, every hope and desire, every emotion of which the heart is susceptible. He has sent forth his Spirit to accompany the word-to apply its healing power, and through its instrumentality to renew, and sanctify, and save. Can it be that, not withstanding this exhibition of loving-kindness and tender mercy, the sinner cannot submit to God, believe, and live? Can it be that God hath pleasure in the death of him that dieth?—and can it be that the sinner can do nothing to inherit eternal life? Many there are who live and die in the neglect of duty, pleading the necessity of transgression, and implicitly charging the merciful God with their ruin. The Jews did this, and they are not alone in the guilt. Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; thus shall ye speak, saying, if our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but, that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?-Behold ye trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my vame, and say, we are delivered to do all these abominations ?---(Jer. vii. 10.) In the face of such language, no sinner can pretend that there is any necessity for his future condemnation, except what he creates by his own voluntary rejection of the gospel. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not. These sinners, Christ