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preaching among them the glad tidings of the kingdom of God ; 22 but His gracious offers of mercy had been despised. He had done among them works such as none other man ever did ; 23 but notwithstanding the clearest evidence of His Divine power had been brought before their eyes, they had despised and rejected Him. He therefore foretold their awful doom.
But still, as if He were desirous to avert from them, as long as possible, the Divine vengeance which was about to descend upon their guilty heads; on this His last public entrance into Jerusalem, He went directly to the temple ; and as He had done before at the beginning of His ministry, He now again manifested His indignation against those who had profaned the house of God, by making it a place of merchandise and extortion, when it ought to be entirely devoted to Divine worship. He went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. On this occasion, no doubt, His disciples remembered, as on the former, that it was written of Him, The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up.24 He here took the last opportunity to show His zeal for the house of God, and His desire that it should be appropriated solely to His service. And when He had thus cleansed it, it is added that, He taught daily in the temple. For a few days He was pleased to instruct the people; and they heard Him very attentively, while He related those solemn parables, and delivered those awful prophecies which the Evangelists have recorded. In the day-time He was teaching in the temple ; and at night He went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him.25 The solemn declarations, the awful prophecies, and the severe reprehensions, which He uttered, seem to have alarmed the chief priests and the scribes, and the chief of the people so greatly, that they sought to destroy Him, in order to relieve their minds from the fears which He had instilled into them. But they could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear Him. The rulers were unable at that time to effect their
22 Luke viii. 1.
23 John xv. 24.
24 John ïi. 17.
purpose, because they feared the people, who crowded round Him to receive His instructions. But the chief priests were not to be diverted from their object, and in a few days they contrived to accomplish it. In the mean time, however, our blessed Saviour returned good for evil. He viewed their hatred and opposition with pity and compassion. He was grieved for the hardness of their hearts. His commiseration of their ignorance and blindness, which He foresaw would bring destruction upon them, moved Him to tears, and caused Him to utter the pathetic exclamation in the text. 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 which belong unto thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes.
25 Luke xxi. 37, 38.
Let us transfer the subject from the people of His day to ourselves; and consider the manner in which the sentiments expressed in these words may be referred to the state of mankind in general.
First, As to their natural ignorance of the things which belong to their peace.
Secondly, As to their blindness in wilfully disregarding that which it is their highest interest to lay to heart. And
Thirdly, The compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ for their condition.
May we be enabled to meditate upon these several topics, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, in such a manner that we may derive spiritual benefit from them, to the glory of God and the salvation of our souls. We are to notice
First, The natural ignorance of mankind with regard to the things which belong to their peace.
Our Saviourthus lamented over the Jewish nation: If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace. The high opinion which the Jews had of themselves, prevented them from receiving the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, and obeying His gospel. And does not the same cause operate now in occasioning ignorance of the gospel of Christ? Is it not because the heart is not humbled before God, not broken under a sense of the evil of indwelling sin, that sinners remain ignorant of the things which belong to their peace? Surely this is the reason why the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.26 Ignorance of ourselves, then, is the chief reason why the gospel of Christ is neglected. Until a man is brought to know himself, so as to be humbled before God on account of the sinfulness of his heart and life, the gospel of peace
is of no value in his eyes. Whatever may
be the estimation in which others hold it, it has no charms for him. We are not to judge of our own state, then, merely by the fact of our hearing the gospel of Christ. Many who heard our Saviour Himself preach as never man spake, 27 afterwards joined in the cry, Crucify Him, crucify Him.28 Have we been brought by the hearing of the word of God to a right knowledge of ourselves? Has the preaching of the gospel been the means of humbling our hearts before God ? Have we seen ourselves to be miserable sinners in His sight? And have we been led humbly and earnestly to cry that pardoning mercy may be vouchsafed to us for Christ's sake? As long as a man maintains a good opinion of his own heart, and of his own state by nature, he will not earnestly seek for Divine mercy. He is ignorant of himself, and therefore does not see his need of the remedy which God has graciously provided for his deliverance from the evils with which he is encompassed, and those which will come upon all the impenitent and unbelieving hereafter. The pride of his heart prevents him from humbling himself at the footstool of the mercy-seat. It is needful that this truth should be plainly and explicitly stated, that hearers of the gospel may not deceive themselves on account of the outward profession which they make, and suppose that in consequence of it they are Christians indeed. The true Christian is taught to know himself as a guilty sinner before God, and to be humbled in His presence on account of it; and to pray earnestly and anxiously that pardon may be vouchsafed to him for Christ's sake. This humiliation of heart proceeds from the teaching of the Spirit of God, who convinces him of sin, causing him to feel what
26 Mark iv, 19.
27 John vii. 46.
28 John xix. 6.