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FAMILY SERMONS.-No. CLVIII. 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 thy
in the contemplation of the awful sufferings which he knew awaited him there within a few days; when he should be despised, and buffeted, and spit upon, and crucified, for the redemption of an ungodly and ungrateful world? No. Such thoughts, however natural, were far removed from the bosom of the compassionate Saviour. He beheld the city; it awakened in his mind many painful reflections; and he wept over it. Not all the provocations he had hitherto borne, not all the cruelties that were soon to be added to them, could restrain his feelings of pity, when he reflected on the doom that was about to fall on his wilfully blinded countrymen, and uttered the solemn exclamation in the text, which may be thus paraphrased, "Oh, unhappy and devoted city, would that even at length, in this thy last and latest hour of grace, thou wouldst repent and turn to God! Then should thy former rejection of prophets and righteous men even yet havebeen forgiven! Then would a merciful Saviour even yet have rescued thee from destruction! Oh that thou hadst known, even thou, the long-belov
and favoured city of Jehovah, where his choicest mercies were
THE circumstances under which
richly poured out, and bis repeated warnings exhibited, the things that belong to thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes! O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard! What could have been done more unto my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, why brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard; I will take away the hedge thereof; and it shall be eaten up, and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down; and I will lay it waste it shall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up briars and thorns. I will also command the clouds that they rain
no rain upon it." Or, in the words that follow the text; "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"-that is, thou didst not lay to heart-" the time of thy visitation." "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee! how often would I have gathered thy children toge ther, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate."
But, while the passage before us thus leads us to admire the tenderness and compassion of Christ, it should also awaken another train of reflection in our minds. As with the people of Jerusalem, so with each of us; there are things that belong to our eternal peace; a space is given for us to become acquainted with them; too many neglect this opportunity; and to those who do so, a time will come when the things that belong to their peace shall be for ever hid from their eyes. May our meditation on these points be blessed by the Spirit of God, to excite in us a salutary dread lest we neglect so great salvation; and to lead us to an earnest resolution, by his grace assisting us, to lose no time in applying ourselves to make our calling and election sure.
1. There are things that belong to our eternal peace.—All the trifles of this world will soon pass away: it will be of no concern to us, a few years hence, whether we were young or old, rich or poor, prosperous or afflicted. But there are subjects of never-ending moment: the concern of our souls, the interests of eternity will last when all worldly affairs are for ever forgotten. God has been pleased to
disclose in his word ample information on these points; and it is necessary for our everlasting safety that we should become acquainted with what he has thus communicated.
The case of the Jews, as described in the text, will shew us the nature of the things that belong to our peace. For, what was the ground of their guilt? What was the message that they refused to receive? It was the message of peace through the death and merits of a crucified Saviour. They wilfully rejected the Lord of life and glory. They felt not their need of him: they would not come unto him that they might have life: they thought themselves safe in an outward profession of religion, and boasted of their spiritual privileges, while they remained ignorant of God and of themselves, and shewed no desire either to receive the record of his Son, or to submit themselves to his holy and self-denying law.
It is thus with too many persons in every age; they may not indeed, like the Jews, openly reject the Messiah, the anointed of God, and the Prince of Peace: but they slight his message; they live contentedly in a state in which there is no true safety; they are ignorant of that divinely revealed plan of mercy by which God is reconciled to man, and man to God; they despise the offer of spiritual peace; they are unmindful of the blessings of that peace; they are at war with the Majesty of Heaven, and have no well-grounded hope of God's favour either here or hereafter. In a word, they neglect both the doctrines and the precepts of Christianity: they neither betake themselves to a crucified Saviour for pardon, nor endeavour to fulfil his righteous commands. Yet there is no peace with God on any other terms: his language is, Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out; Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt
be saved; Present your bodies and souls to God, which is your reasonable service; Let all bitterness and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking be put away from you, with all malice, and be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Such are the things that be long to our peace; including all the doctrines and duties of our holy religion; and particularly a grateful reception of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, as our Prophet, Priest, and King, with a life of faith upon him, and obedicuce to his requirements.
2. A season is mercifully afforded us to become acquainted with these things. God bare long with the Jews: he did not cut them off at once, or for their first offence. He gave them a lengthened day of grace, а space for repentance. They had line upon line, and precept upon precept: the Messiah himself appeared personally amongst them; his Divine mission was plainly declared by his miracles; he healed their sick, he opened the eyes of the blind, he made the lame to walk, and the dead to live. His message of mercy was faithfully and affectionately proclaimed to them." If any man," said he, "thirst, let him come unto me and drink;" "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." "This is the will of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Such were the constant declarations of the Saviour while upon earth; such his slowness to anger towards an unrelenting race; thus shewing himself to be indeed a God "merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth."
We also, in like manner, have our day of grace. The Lord wait
eth that he may have compassion upon us: there is no defect of warning or invitation on his part; he addresses us as in the language of the text; " that thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace!" Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation; while we are in possession of our faculties of mind and body; while our conscience remains capable of impression; while the Holy Spirit continues to strive in our hearts; while the offer of mercy is afforded us, and grace is promised to enable us to embrace it. If we fall short of salvation, we shall have nothing to complain of but our own thoughtlessness and impenitence. The text presents a forcible illustration of God's conduct towards us. How affecting the lamentation of Christ over Jerusalem! "If thou hadst known"he does not finish the sentence; grief seems to choke his utterance; he weeps for those who wept not for themselves, and even yet would he have received them had they not obstinately turned deaf ear to his expostulations.
3. We are next to shew that too many persons neglect the opportunity thus afforded of becoming acquainted with the things that belong to their peace.-The Jews notoriously did so : but, alas ! theirs is not a solitary instance; the case is common; O that it be not our own! The world before the flood were warned by Noah, a preacher of righteousness: during the space of a hundred and twenty years, he proclaimed the approaching judgment; but they neglected the message till their day of grace was past, and they were swept off with irretrievable destruction. The sons of Lot had warning to leave the devoted city of the plain; but they believed not the threatening, and were destroyed in the overthrow. The same awful truth is illustrated by many other examples recorded in Scripture. And
is not the fact precisely similar in our own day? Do not too many resemble the invited guests in the parable, who were so busy with their farms and their merchandize, with the business or the amusements of the world, that they disobeyed the gracious summons, and were justly excluded from the benefits intended for them? But it is superfluous 10 multiply proofs on this part of the subject: we shall therefore proceed to the next point for consideration, which was to shew, that, if we neglect the warning so mercifully given us, a time will come when the things that belong to our peace shall be for ever hid from our eyes.
4. In the case of the Jews, this awful period had now arrived. God had given them up: their hour was past: Jehovah seemed to say to them, "Thou hast forsaken me; thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting." It was indeed long before this sentence was thus finally issued: often had the Almighty expostulated with them, as in the language of the Prophet: "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? My heart is turned within me: my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger; I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee." But now a decree was gone out similar to that of old,
1, the Lord, have spoken it; it shall come to pass, and I will do it: I will not go back, neither will I spare; neither will I repent: according to thy ways, and according to thy doings shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God." The Saviour himself, who had so often pleaded with his unbelieving countrymen according to the flesh, who even now wept over them as he approached their long-favoured CHRIST. OBSERV. NO. 242.
city, and foresaw the impending vengeance, pronounces their doom. The door of mercy is about to be closed; and he proceeds, in the verses which follow the text, to predict the fatal issue. He had proved by his long forbearance and offers of pardon that he hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; and he was now to shew, what is no less certain, that his threatenings are not in vain, and that it is a fearful thing to fall as an impenitent transgressor into the hands of the living God.
Let us apply this subject to our selves. Have we hitherto rejected the message of Divine mercy? Have we refused to return to a state of obedience to the Saviour? Have we preferred the world or sin to God? And have we hoped, thus living and dying, to escape unpunished? No: it cannot be thus, "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?" We know not how soon the sentence may go forth; "Cut it down: why cumbereth it the ground?" It is not, however, yet too late: "Return to me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts." "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." Had the Jewish people listened to the warning, and, like Ninevah, repented of their transgressions, they had not been cut off; for, "At what instant," saith Jehovah," I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation against whom I have pronounced turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." The same consolatory declaration applies to every
individual of mankind. The threat enings of God against sinners are not intended to lead men to despair, but to repentance: his goodness also and forbearance are designed to have the same effect. While any relentings of conscience remain, any desire to repair to the cross of the Saviour, and to implore pardon of our justly offended God, our day of grace is not past: there is hope for us even now, even though it were the eleventh hour; for whoso cometh to Christ shall not be cast out. But we know not what another day or hour may bring forth; we know not how soon our conscience may be blinded, our hearts hardened, or death cut us off in our sins. Blessed be God, the things that belong to our peace are not yet hid from our eyes: let us then, while it is called to day, hear his voice, and turn at his invitation; lest, before we are aware, the time arrive when he shall proclaim in his wrath, that we shall not enter into his rest.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I WAS much pleased with an extract from Waterland, in your Number for November, respecting the simplicity of the faith of the primitive church in regard to the equal Divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the unity of the Godhead. Great advantage would arise to modern Christians from exercising a similar simplicity of faith in all the declarations of Scripture; and perhaps in this very point consists much of that humble child-like character which our Lord declared necessary to qualify persons for an entrance into his kingdom. If we observe the habits of children, we shall perceive, that till experience and observation have taught them the frequent insufficiency, perhaps even the deceitfulness, of many around them, they give implicit belief to whatever is communicated to them as truth, and are as regardless as they are ignorant of
the arguments which may be urged for or against its admission. This credence, however lightly bestowed in the first instance, remains steady in proportion as the child finds, with advancing years, and a growing capacity, that his teacher has hitherto always rightly informed him; which being ascertained, he will continue to give him credit on all subjects of knowledge above his own capacity of understanding, till their minds and information arrive at a level.
Now in God we have an infallible Teacher and Guide; one who neither can nor will mislead us; and our concern and our prayer should simply be, to understand aright what he has revealed. This is a truth not only acknowledged but felt and acted upon by all sincere believers. Whence then comes it, that, possessing the same honest desire to embrace sound doctrine, and with the same infallible revelation in their hands, Christians are lamentably divided and subdivided in their opinions; and that, besides there are perhaps scarcely two ina multiplicity of distinct sects, dividuals of precisely the same sentiments? Many causes may indeed unite to produce this unhappy consequence; education, prejudice, partiality, every thing which tends to warp the judgment, and to subject its determinations to the in fluence of the passions. Still the want of a simple reception of the declarations of Scripture in their plain meaning, is one very considerable source of the janglings and divisions in the Christian church. For these disputes do not arise so much from the words of holy writ, simply taken in themselves, as from the deductions men draw from them, and the systems they build upon them; or from their opposing one text to another, and profaning those spiritual weapons which ought to be employed exclusively against the common enemy in a suicidal contest among fellowdisciples and friends. The active