ON CHRIST’S WEEPING OVER JERUSALEM, LUKE XIX
Consider first, how our Lord, coming for the last time to visit Jerusalem, a few days before his passion; ‘when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known and that in this thy day, the things that are for thy peace! but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee; and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee; and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone; because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.’
Our Lord in this his last coming to Jerusalem is accompanied by crowds of people, bearing branches of palms in their hands, and welcoming him with hosannas of joy; but his attention is engaged by the melancholy object he has before his eyes of that unhappy city, and of all the evils that were coming upon it, which he bewails in this pathetic manner. Not that the beating down of stone walls, or the destroying of houses, was a matter worthy of the tears of the Son of God; nor yet that men, who are all doomed to die, should die a little before their time; but the miseries which he lamented were of another kind, viz., the blindness and the hardness of heart of the inhabitants of this city so highly favoured by his visits; their extreme ingratitude and their obstinacy in sin; and that final reprobation and eternal damnation, which they were quickly drawing down upon their own heads, by their repeated abuses and wilful resistance of those extra-ordinary graces which he offered them at this time of their visitation. Christians, beware lest the like abuses of divine grace should draw down the like judgment on you also.
Consider 2ndly, that you have at present your day as Jerusalem had then. This is your day; a time of mercy and grace, in which the son of God daily visits you by many gracious calls and inspirations. His sacrament and sacrifice, the fountains of your Saviour, are now continually open for you, together with all manner of helps for your salvation. But what use do you make of this your day? For it is short and will be quickly at an end, and then the day of the Lord must take place. Have you a right sense and knowledge in this your day of the things that are for your peace and for your true welfare? Do the things of God and eternity make a true impression on your souls? Is the conduct of your life regulated by them? Or are not these great truths, through your own fault, hidden at present from your eyes? O take care lest you pass by unregarded this time of your visitation, as Jerusalem did. The days shall suddenly come upon you also, when your spiritual enemies shall cast a trench about you, and straiten you on every side, and beat you flat to the ground; when the sorrows of death shall encompass you, and the perils of hell shall find you, and the grace of God, which you have so long abused, shall leave you in the hands of your enemies.
Consider 3rdly, how our Saviour, after weeping over Jerusalem and denouncing to it its final desolation, entering into the temple, began to cast them out that sold therein, and them that bought, saying to them: ‘It is written, my house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves,’ Luke xix. 45:- giving us to understand by this proceeding, that the profanation of the house of God, and of sacred things, the love of gain more than of holiness, and a gross neglect of prayer and other religious duties, is the high road of blindness of spirit, and hardness of heart, and consequently to a dreadful and eternal reprobation. Christians, take care, lest imitating in these particulars the guilt of the Jews, you draw upon your heads the like punishments. The soul of every Christian ought to be the temple of the living God, 2 Cor. vi. 16, and in that quality the house of prayer. O take care you never be so unhappy as to turn this house of prayer into a den of thieves, by shutting out from hence the fear and love of God, and letting in sin and Satan.
Conclude to attend in this your day to the things that appertain to your peace, and not to neglect the time of your visitation; lest by a want of corresponding with grace, you be so unhappy as to fill up the measure of your sins, and suddenly to fall, when you least expect it, into the hands of the living God.