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CHRIST WEEPING OVER JERUSALEM.
God be praised, who permits us to see another Quarterly Fast-Day! O that we were able to say this with that sincerity of heart, with which we reasonably ought to say it.
Supposing that a person who had died during the last three months, in a state of impenitence, and who had entered upon a miserable eternity, might return to this world for the purpose of keeping a fast-day and seeking his conversion-would not such a one say,
God be praised for affording me a fast-day, in which I can repent, that I may not be cast into hell and eternal torment on account of my sins ! Ought we not, therefore, to regard it as a great favour, that we are permitted to keep another fast-day, and thus to prepare for a blissful eternity ? All our days ought reasonably to be days of penitence and preparation for eternity. But our hearts are much too slothful and negligent. We have,
therefore, to thank the great love and compassion of God for affording us such particular days and appointed times, in which we are the more forcibly and impressively reminded of our duty. Therefore let this be a truly important fast-day to us; that we may not keep it merely from custom, but with a devout, penitent, and prayerful heart in the presence of God. Let us, therefore, commence our devotions with prayer, and all now present humble themselves before the present majesty of God.
“O Lord, our God, teach us to pray on this day of fasting and prayer! Thou art a Spirit, and desirest to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. How often have we appeared before thy Sacred Majesty with empty and hypocritical words ! how often have we offered strange fire on thine altar, and drawn near to thee with our lips, whilst our hearts were far from thee! Mercifully forgive us this sin, and let us now draw near unto thee with our hearts, and adore thee with our spirits. Let our prayer be the language of our hearts, and not go forth out of feigned lips.
O Lord, thou eternal and omniscient God, before whom every heart now present lies open
and naked ! Thou knowest, O Lord, our misery, and how very unfit we are to speak with such a holy God. Grant us the spirit of true prayer, that we may approach thee in the name of Jesus, lift up holy hands unto thee, and pray to thee in an acceptable manner. O
impress us with a sense of thy majesty and greatness, and also of thy loving kindness and goodness, that we may reverentially and confidentially adore thee as our God !
Thou art the Lord our God, who hast made us, and not we ourselves; thou hast given us life and breath, and preserved us to the present day. Thou mightest long ago have deprived us of them, since so many fast-days have passed away unprofitably; our hearts bless thy long suffering, goodness, and mercy, that we are still preserved, and that thou art granting us another fast-day. Ohow many have been snatched away into eternity during the last three months-perhaps into an awful eternity; and yet thou hast spared us : only that we might come to reflection, and consider more seriously what belongs to our deliverance, our salvation, and our peace, and that we might still find grace, in this our day of grace.
Now, O Lord, we are assembled here, by thy good hand upon us, for the purpose of keeping a day of real fasting and prayer; let our hearts also be collected, that we may continue in thy presence in a penitential and prayerful state of mind. O let thy influence be powerfully felt by us and in us! Grant grace, that when thy Gospel is now preached and heard, it be not delivered in a cold and lifeless manner, but in the power of thy Spirit, and listened to with the ardent desires of the heart; that thus we may be effectually convinced, inwardly awakened, and urged and encouraged to resign ourselves to thee,
Lord Jesus, to this end I resign my heart and all that I am! Work in me that which is well pleasing to thee. Regard not my unworthiness and insufficiency, but put the words into my mouth, that I shall speak, and bless them according to the necessities of each, that every one may receive his portion of spiritual good, from thine alone holy and gracious Spirit. To this end, be every heart now present resigned to thee, O Lord Jesus ! and let every heart in particular be regarded by thee at this time with compassion, and its necessities supplied.
O have pity upon us, and let not hypocrisy defile our worship; that this may not be a day which shall tend to our condemnation, but to our salvation and benefit in time and eternity. Hear, then, our supplications, and forgive us our sins, which render us unworthy of being heard, for the sake of thy meritorious sufferings, in the power of thy sacred intercession with the Father. Amen."
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 which belong unto thy peace ! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”
Very important, dearest friends, are the words of Paul, with which he commences his letter to the Hebrews, when he says, “God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto
the fathers, by the prophets, hath, in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son. In these words, Paul shows us the greatness of the love of God to man, which makes use of, first one means, and then another, to bring back poor mortals from the path of perdition, and also how little every thing avails, unless Jesus Christ himself put his hand to the work.
God has in former times, and in divers manners, spoken to the fathers. He spoke to them by a variety of visions, by visible manifestations, and by dreams in the night; he spoke to them by many wonderful works which he did in Egypt, and by the many marvels he wrought in the desart, before the
eyes of the children of Israel. God spoke to them on Mount Sinai, by the giving of his law; God spoke to them by the many prophets whom he sent them from time to time. He spoke to them by the whole external ceremonial of divine worship, by which it was intended to typify to the ancient people of Israel the true nature, sanctity, and necessity of an inward divine worship, as well as the indispensable necessity of the atonement by the blood of Christ, the only atoning sacrifice. But with all this, Israel still continued “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,"--all had been unavailing. At length God sent his Son in the flesh, who was the great prophet of whom Moses and all the prophets had spoken, and had testified, that he would bring salvation, and that to him they ought to listen.
But God has also spoken in a variety of ways to