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THE IMPENITENCE OF JERUSALEM.
How often would I have gathered thy Children together, and
ye would not ! - Matr. xxiii. 37. REJECTION of Christ is a chief sin; it belongs to the first class of impieties. If the God of mercy give his Son from his bosom; if that blessed Saviour suffer, bleed, and die; if he extend his arms to receive the vile, the guilty, and Hell-deserving; and these, in return, despise his grace, turn their eyes disdainfully from his cross, and treat his atonement with contempt, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin; the offended Saviour retires from these Jerusalem-sinners; but ere be departs, weeps over their folly, and pronounces their awful sentence, -" your house is left unto you desolate.'
Jerusalem was a place rendered illustrious, on account of its superb temple, where God deigned to dwell; and while he honoured other places with his general visits, here he fixed his abode, manifested his gracious presence, and revealed himself in all his beauties. From Jerusalem too the word of the Lord was to go forth; hence flowed the river whose streams, everywhere diverging, made glad the city of God. Highly honoured, but guilty city! The compassionate Saviour, perceiving thy future miseries, exclaims,“ o Jerusalem ! Jerusalem ! thou hast been the residence of Jehovah, but thine inhabitant shall depart; thou hast been honoured with his presence, but thy sun shall go down; thou hast been the repository of divine truth ; from thee knowledge has flowed in abundance, but soon the river shall change its course; soon thou shalt dwell in the horrors of darkness! yea, thou shalt seek the water of life, and none shall be found, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”
The charges brought against this devoted city are very weighty. God had sent his servants, the prophets ; but these had been slain. Messengers of mercy had been commissioned to publish glad tidings; but these had been stoned. But shall not God avenge them? Yes : for none shall with impunity slight the messages of the servants of God. Their Master will rise up in their defence; he will avenge them speedily. “He that despiseth you, despiseth me, is the reason why he will come to judge those that obey not his gospel.
Propbets had been killed; messengers had been stoned ! at length the Son himself appears: He comes to gather his revolta ing children together. How often would he have done this! The Saviour's mission to the worlıl, - the establishment of a gospel ministry, - the appointment of a Sabbath, -- the smiles of divine bounty,- the rod of affliction, the convictions of conscience, - all are designed as external means to gather souls to Christ, and secure them from the horrors of eternal destruction, How often! - Brethren, God speaks once, twice, thrice,“ but XV.
man perceiveth it not.” Reader, how repeatedly has his voice been addressed to you? Has your table been stored with abundance? This was - the goodness of God,” to lead you to repentance. Has the rod of affliction alighted on your family? This is a father's hand, to reduce yon to obedience. Has the aspect of public or domestic affairs been en veloped in gloom? This is the sign of the Almighty's thunder, to krive you to the Saviour's arms; 'tis the voice of Christ to gaiher you to himself. Have you obeyed the voice? Have you cried Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth?" or may it still be said of you, “ye would not ?" Perhaps, instead of coming with weeping and sup plications, you have remained careless and unconcerned? The Saviour has spread his arms, and spoken gracious words ; but you bave set at nought his counsel. He has held out his sceptre, but you have scornfully replied, " I will not have thee to reign over me.” He has sent you the epistles of his love, but you have returned them unopened. “ Ye would not.” Ah, you have leagued with his enemies, despised his Sabbaths, abused his name! miserable, infatuated creature! and can you suppose he will not rise up to vindicate his honour? Yes, fellow simer; he will proceed to his work, his strange work of judgment!
The sentence pronounced against Jerusalem is awful and affecting : “B:hold, your house is left unto you desolate!" How striking were the calamities of the Jews! What vast numbers were slain! When the Saviour deserts it, then the signal is given for its cnemies to lay it even with the ground. Thus, when the Sun retires, the shadows of the eveniny boldly advance, and the beasts of the forest rush forth for devastatiin and murder.
Jerusalem is deprived of means and opportunities. No longer shall the silver trumpet of the gospel sound mercy and pardon; no more shall the priests, the ministers of the Lord, wrep between the porch and the altar, nor the songs of Zion give life and ani. mation to the soul.
Jerusalem is exposed to the rage of its adversaries. house is left unto you desolate;" without protection; without defence. Who has ever read the account of the siege of Jerusalem, without recollecting the Saviour's prediction of its de. solations and miserics?
Numerous reflections arise from these remarks. Reader, you are cautioned not to trust in mere privileges; for, if abused, they but enliance your condemnation. 6 Not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven." The design of your privileges is to gather you to Jesus. O then frequently enquire, whether they have brought you to his arms. He will not be unmindrol of your abuse of those means he has put into your hands, Remember, 0 professor, that their abuse frequently precedes their removal. “ Repent,” saith the Saviour,
I will remove the candlestick from ibce.'
Finally, Let us all be concerned that we do not live and die Jerusalem-sinners, lest the Saviour, offended at our contempt of gospel blessings, should say, “ These, mine enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither and slay them before me." While the Saviour waits to receive sinners, and wbile there is one promise to encourage us, let us fly to the hope set before us in the gospel. Holy Spirit, lead us and guide us hy thy word, “ Take of the things of Christ and reveal them unto us!”
“ And bear thy witness in our hearts
" That we are born of God.” L.
Love, apart from religion, and as a merely natural affection, is excellent in itself, and a source of much felicity to the world; but love, as a Christian principle, is truly noble, and assimilates its possessors to the holy angels; angels, who glow with love, as the sun flames with an inextinguishable fire.
But dissimulation is a radical disease in our fallen nature; and the sacred ternis, Love and Friendship, have been unhappily prostituted. Genuine love hath its seat in the heart, and arises naturally from a similarity of manners, of disposition, of prin. ciple, of pursuit, and from mutual interest. Not that it is, in a carnal sense, an interested and mercenary regard; no such thing : it is free from this low impurity, the very gangrene of all sterling friendship. True Christian affection is noble, disinterested, and pure. This love, as it comes to perfection, is strong and lively; it is not a cold indifference, a mere resolution not to do an injury; it is spiritual and holy: it delights in holy, things, an holy Saviour, holy ordinances, and holy ends.
Christian love is steady and permanent. It is not an ignis fatuus, which glares for a moment, and then disappears. This love is the soul of religion : it is as the sun in experimental and practical godliness: it preserves its station, and maintains its splendor : its effects are great and excellent : it is sure to promote the felicity of families : it enables and disposes brethren to dwell together in unity :" it brightens every countepance, and gladdens every heart: it supplies the want of wealth, and cherishes contentment.
Christian love promotes the general welfare of society. The very example of a pious, orderly, and affectionate family, hath a great degree of influence on a wliole neighbourhood : and, as two or three constellations in the heavens produce a greater lustre, and extend their influences farther than any single one, so two or three such families enhance the general benefit. Christian love promotes the peace of nations and of the world;
inasmuch as it damps and extinguishes the flames of envy and ambition.
Christian love promotes the salvation of souls.. Direct your eye to Missionary Societies: read the “ Missionary Transactions," and see a proof, - a lively demonstration of this asser tion, in the Hottentots, men raised up from the lowest state of human degradation, advanced to a state of civilization, and, by religion, rising to the throne of God and the regions of eternal life!
We do well to remember, that the authority which commands us to love one another is divine, absolute, and eternal. It was Jesus Christ who said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” In short, a want of love is a want of every thing.
That we may duly cherish Christian love, let us guard against " evil surmisings,” suggested by pride, envy, and distrust. These tend to undermine and destroy all Christian communion. Meek-eyed “ Charity thinketh no evil.” Pride, envy, and distrust have kindled endless animosities, and occasioned infinite distress to thousands! Let us be always ready to serve, rather than to be served. Let us guard our words, and never speak in anger. Let us uniformly cherish the noblest sentiments, and the warmest benevolence. Dear reader, be as the sun in the firmament, and diffuse light and heat in every direction. « Let love be without dissimulation."
ON A SUNDAY.
The bells from the several churches were sweetly chiming, to call to the house of
and whether it was the effect of imagination, or from some higher source operating upon my mind at the moment, I know not, but so it was, they seemed to form in my apprehension an echo to the gracious invitation of the word, as if they said “ Whosover will, let him come and take of the water of life.”
6 Bountiful Lord,” thought I, “ was it not enough to provide so rich a Saviour for poor sinners as Jesus, but dost thou open also in him“ fountains and streams from Lebanon? Dost thou cause channels of ordinances to be running through the kingdom for conveying the blessings of redemption, where the poor and the needy may come and receive freely,“ without money and without price?"
Happy nation! happy people! O England, didst thou but know how rightly to appreciate thy mercies ! Surely, it may be said of our highly.favoured island as it was of Judea of old,
* What nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for!” We can enjoy our Sabbaths free and unmolested, while multitudes upon the face of the earth know not what a Sabbath means, nor ever heard the “ sound of the church-going bell!" Nay, to come nearer home, thousands of our neighbours on the Continent have lost the very distinction of the holy day amidst the din of war, and the horrors of revolution !
I was hastening to the house of God, under the sweet impression of these thoughts, and in my mind anticipating the rich enjoyment this hallowed day opened to my views, when my mind was suddenly arrested with the noise of passengers, some on horses and some in chariots, driving with eagerness towards the Turnpike-Gate, as if the attainment of every thing which could constitute happiness was thrown open to their pursuit.
I paused as I beheld the affecting sight. 66 Is it possible,” I said to myself, as the busy throng glided by me," is it possible that these can ever once have considered the great end and design of man, or the mercy of a Sabbath? Surely, they have never seen thy loveliness, thou blessed Redeemer of mankind! for had they known thee, this day would have been endeared to them as thine, bringing with it, as it doth, the blessings of salvation ! And yet, methinks, even now, as the giddy crowd is hastening by, I behold thee (as thou art beautifully represented in thy sacred word) “ standing at the gates, and at the entering in of the city,” lifting up thy voice with all the tenderness which distin, guishes thy character, saying, “Oye simple, when will
understand knowledge ? and ye fools, depart from folly!"
I felt my heart melting as I looked on. Oh, had I but the power of persuasion (1 said to myself) what a subject is here for entreaty! Here Eloquence might find scope to lavish forth all her noblest powers!"
Nothing but the consciousness of an inability to the service could have restrained the impulse I felt to go forth in argument or persuasion. Methought I could have caught one and another by the arm, and with all the winning affection of an awakened concern, I could have said, “ My poor, unthinking brother, had either of you an idea that this Sabbath might be your last, would
you, or could you, consume it in the manner you intend Would you wish to be found ending time and beginning eternity in the very act of bidding defiance to one of the most positive commands of God? Have you never heard the solemn unalter. able precept, “ Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy?" And supposing (what no human being can be sure may not be the case) supposing that before the shades of night close in upon the earth, the shades of death should close in upon your existence, how would your soul be harrowed up to all the possibilities of misery, to hear the first tremendous voice hailing your approach