"And when He was come near, he beheld the city, and
wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least on this thy day,
the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine
eyes."---Luke, x1x. 41,42.
WE have here a compassionate lamentation in the midst of a solemn triumph. Our Lord's approach unto Jerusalem at this time, and his entrance into it (as the foregoing history shews), carried with them some face of regal and triumphal pomp, but with such allays, as discovered a mind most remote from ostentation; and led by judgment (not vain glory), to transmit through a dark umbrage some glimmerings only of that excellent majesty which both his sonship sand his mediatorship entitled him unto; a very modest and mean specimen of His true indubious royalty and kingly state ; such as might rather intimate than plainly declare it, and rather afford an after-instruction to teachable minds, than beget a present conviction and dread in the stupidly obstinate and unteachable. And this effect we find it had, as is observed by another evangelical historian; who relating the same matter, how in his passage to Jerusalem the people met him with branches of palmtrees and joyful hosannas, he riding upon an ass's colt (as princes or judges, to signify meekness as much as state, were wont to do, Judges v. 10), tells us, these things his disciples understood not at the first, but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto Him, John, xii. 16. For great regard was had in this, as in all the acts of his life and ministry, to that last and conclusive part, his dying a sacrifice upon the cross for the sins of men; to observe all along that mediocrity, and steer that middle course between obscurity and a terrifying, overpowering glory, that this solemn oblation of himself might neither be prevented, nor be disregarded. Agreeably to this design, and the rest of his course, he doth, in this solemnity, rather discover his royal state and dignity by a dark emblem, than by an express representation; and shews in it more of meekness and humility, than of awful majesty and magnificence, as was formerly predicted, Zech. ix. 9. "Rejoice greatly, 0 daughter of Zion; shout, 0 daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."
And how little he was taken in this piece of state, is sufficiently to be seen in this paragraph of the chapter. His mind is much more taken up in the foresight of Jerusalem's sad case; and therefore being come within view of it (which he might very commodiously have in the descent of the higher opposite hill, mount Olivet), he beheld the city, "tis said, and wept over it. Two things concur to make up the cause of this sorrow : -
1. The greatness of the calamity; Jerusalem, once so dear to God, was to suffer,not a scar, but a ruin;- " The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and cornpass 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 :" and -
2. The lost opportunity of preventing it ; - " if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes," ver. 42. And again, "Thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." First, The calamity was greater in his eyes, than it can be in ours. His large and comprehensive mind could take the compass of this sad case. Our thoughts cannot reach far, yet we can apprehend what may make this case very deplorable; we can consider Jerusalem as the city of the great King, where was the palace and throne of the Majesty of heaven, vouchsafing to "dwell with men on earth." Here the divine light and glory had long shone here was the sacred Shechinah, the dwelling-place of the Most High, the symbols of his presence, the seat of worship, the mercy-seat, the place of receiving addresses, and of dispensing favours; "The house of prayer for all nations." To his own people this was the city of their solemnities, whither the tribes were wont to go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord: for there were set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David, Psal. cxxii. 4,5. He that was so great a lover of the souls of men, how grateful and dear to his heart had the place been where through the succession of many by-past ages the great God did use (though more obscurely) to unfold his kind intentions towards sinners, to hold solemn treaties with them, to make himself known, to draw and allure souls into his own holy worship and acquiintance! And that now the dismal prospect presents itself of desolation and ruin, ready to overwhelm all this glory! And lay waste the dwellings of divine love! His sorrow must be conceived proportionable to the greatness of this desolating change.
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