« PreviousContinue »
are satisfied; He hears the suppliant's prayer, and, blessing, receives as his reward, the tears of gladness, and the homage of contrite hearts. Great the contrast!
They, lead to altars of vain show, and prompt religious mockery. He, inspires the sacrifice of pure praise and exalts to mansions in heaven, purchased by his own blood. They, dwell with the rich and feast in royal palaces. He, frequents the abodes of the poor and eats with publicans and sinners, saying, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.”
Finally, in death, they recline upon silken couches, and the populace in mournful measures, chant their solemn requiem.
But He, by the world unpitied and condemned, bleeds for transgressors upon the cross, while the frantic multitude vociferate, “Crucify him, crucify him.” INFINITE THE CONTRAST!
This distinction is clearly illustrated in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself: "God I thank thee that I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, and give tithes of all I possess. But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying,
"God be merciful to me a sinner." "Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Blinded by their conceit, and clad in self-righteousness, the pompous Jews rested secure; nor could they be aroused to a sense of the ruin that awaited their hierarchical dominion.
Have nominal professors. eyes, and cannot see; ears, and cannot hear? And, in view of the vain service and final fall of the haughty Jews, will they trifle with sacred rites and mimic the spirit of divine ordinances? Then may they read their destiny in the doom of that ancient city, whose policy, having no divine protection, yielded to the strong arm of the besieger.
Bow down and worship, thou modern Jerusalem; in deep humility call upon thy God; if peradventure thy doom may be averted. Or hast thou parted with thy birthright, and for a morsel bartered thy inheritance! Shall thy fate be like that of ancient Israel, whose prayer was unavailing when the smoke of her torments lowered the heavens above and the elements frowned upon her; when famine and pestilence reigned within the walls of the great city, and mothers, mad with hunger, fed upon the flesh of their own babes!
The Jewish priest called upon Israel's God, and there was no answer; but the heavens became as brass above, while the earth gave way beneath them. Proud Israel fell!
Will your priests, in the day of trial offer in vain their oblation; and, drinking the cup of your fornication, will ye plunge into the fearful abyss ?
Did afflicted Jerusalem regard Jehovah unmerciful, that he did not hear; and unrighteous in the measure of their afflictions?
They might have read in the gleaming cloud of the fierce tempest, the cause of their unmitigated woe.
Did they remember the despised Nazarene? Had they forgotten the declaration of his mission of love to them; and that when rejected, in tears and solemn lamentation, he cried, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children unto me as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings; but ye. would not!"
“In vain gifts have been bestowed upon you; in vain the oxen and fatling have been killed; and in vain Mercy pleads at your door. As ye make light of the King and his offering, thus provoking the fearful retribution which awaits you, heaven repeats the irrevocable law, and unveils before you the dread consequences of its violation. Could more be done for your peace? Ye have had line upon line, and precept upon precept. But when they came to you with the King's embassy, ye have wantonly slain his servants, and wasted his goods in your riotings. Ye also seek the life of his only Son, while mercifully pleading with you. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate!
"Oh, Jerusalem! House of Israel! I have plead with you until the day is spent, and until my locks are wet with the drops of the night. Ye will not rise from your bed of myrrh! ye will not hearken!
“Henceforth the vineyard shall not flourish, until the hedge thereof shall be taken away and the walls thereof be trodden down: but there shall come up briers and thorns, and the clouds, by command, shall not rain upon it.
“Ye who are wise in your own eyes, and prudent in your own sight, and who say to the voice of God that bringeth these tidings, 'Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see iti and let his counsel who would have us regard him as the Holy One of Israel, draw nigh, and let him come in the display of his power, that we may know it!'
“Wo unto you who call evil good, and good evil, which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. As the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so your root shall be as rottenness, and the blossom of your doings shall go up as dust; because ye have cast away
the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel. Isa. 5.
“And now I go to him that sent me. Ye shall seek me and shall not find me. Henceforth ye shall not see me until ye shall say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.' Did Israel still remember that solemn message? Was not the image of the suffering Son before them
ģ and did not the echo of his solemn valedictory still dwell in the quivering atmosphere; and had not each word of that awful prophesy assumed living form, and pursued them like ghostly spectres? Or, as immortal entities, did they not repeat: “Behold your house is left unto you desolate; and I go to him that sent me. Ye shall seek me and shall not find me?"
No marvel, then, that the abased Sanhedrim should, in the day of trial, afflict their souls in vain; should put on sackcloth, and mourn in dust and ashes without avail. Or that the Priests should multiply their sacrifices and burnt offerings upon golden altars, unanswered by the Shekinah.
They had offered the Great Sacrifice, though in malice, when they hung upon the Cross their