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passion. They were grieved that a great prophet, and so good a man, who had never done the least injury to any one, but, on the contrary, went about doing good, and healing all kinds of diseases, should suffer such an ignominious and painful death. Their concern was increased by the dismal sight of this mournful spectacle, which might have raised compassion not only in the humane, but even in the hardest heart. They saw. in our blessed Saviour's face the bloody marks of the cruel indignities he had suffered in Pi. late's judgment-hall; that sacred head having been deplorably abused by the blows of the inhuman soldiers, and by the wreath of thorns which had been forced into his temples. They likewise now beheld with their own eyes the barb:rity of the Roman soldiers, which still raged against our blessed Saviour. Now it was customary among the Romans to torment those who were to be crucified, as they went to the place of execution, by pushing them to and fro, beating them with their fists and clubs, and sometimes strewing sharp stones and nails under their naked feet, and with all possible violence forcing them to walk over them. As this was the usual way of treating those criminals, who were to suffer death on the cross, it is hardly to be supposed that the soldiers, who hitherto had used the sacred person of Christ with the most cruel insolence, would in the least abate of their rigour on this occasion. Besides all this, the heavy burden of the cross must have been very painful to our blessed Saviour, who was spent with fatigue, and had his shoulders, and back all over lacerated by the scourges. So moving a sight might well raise ir these women a sensible compassion, which vented itself in tears, lamentations, wringing of the hands, beating the breast, and other outward signs of grief.
Now it was this compassionate concern that gave occasion to this penitential sermon; for our blessed Saviour, turning about to these women, as he had the night before to l'eter after his fall, with looks full of
piety and compassion, addressed them thus: “Weep not for me, ye daughters of Jerusalem, but weep for yourselves, and for your children, &c.' Thus our blessed Lord, indeed, directs these words to the women; but at the same time, in their person, to the whole house of Israel, as the rest of the multitude were within hearing. To this end, he exalted his voice, and spoke with a particular emphasis, as the prophets usually did in their denunciations of God's approaching judgments.
These words of our Saviour contain the following particulars.
i. An admonition to these women concerning their lamentations.
2. A denunciation of the approaching divine judgments.
3. An information of the true cause of those judgments.
1. In the aclmonition to the women concerning their lamentations, our blessed Saviour forbids them to shed their tears for him, and recommends to them, to weep for themselves, and for their children. The prohibition is expressed in these words : ‘Weep not for me!' Not that he absolutely blames their tears, which are rather to be esteemed a public testimony of his innocence; and deserved the more regard, since by the Jewish laws persons condemned to death by the Sanhedrim were not to be publicly lamented. But such was the grief of these women, that they were not afraid, by their tears, to condemn the capital sentence passed by the chief Priests and Scribes, as a most unjust proceeding. However, we do not read that they was punished by the great council, ox insulted by the populace, on this account; which would certainly have been the case, had not these feeble witnesses of our Saviour's innocence been protected by a superior power.
But why should our blessed Lord forbid these women to weep for him ? It was, first, because he per:
ceived that these tears sprung from a wrong 'scource These compassionate daughters of Jerusalem only looked on Christ's outward wounds, pains, and ignominy, which excited in them a natural sympathetic feelings; but they had no idea of the secret council of God, and the true cause of all the sufferings that Jesus endured. They were not sensible that the sins of the world, and consequently their own sins, were to be laid on the head of this sacred victim ; that he was dragging them up to the place of execution; and that he was to offer them in his body on the cross, and thus publicly make an effectual atonement for, and do them away. Secondly, he forbids this weeping, because he looks upon himself in his present circumstances as one that did not deserve any com. passion. God himself, as it were, hid his face from his only Son, who was then our Mediator, and load. ed with the sins of the whole world. As a dejected sinner, whose conscience is awakened, accounts himself unworthy of every consolation, and of all the affections shewn to him by others; so likewise our Redeemer, being, by the imputations of the sins of the world, made a curse and expiatory sacrifice, accounts himself unworthy to receive any alleviation of his grief from the compassion of others. Thirdly, He forbids them to lament, because he knew that his short transitory sufferings would produce such noble fruits, and conduce to the glory of God, and the eternal salvation of mankind; so that there was much greater reason for joy than sorrow on this occasion.
On the other hand, the blessed Jesus advises them to weep for themselves, and for their children. In this exhortation, he alludes to these words, which the people had uttered with great vehemence, a little before, at the instigation of the chief Priests and Elders: His blood be upon us, and on our children' (Matt. xxvii. 25.) Weep for yourselves! As if our blessed Lord had said, If you are for lamenting and shedding
tears, weep for YOURSELVES, not only for your sins which are the cause of my pains, &c. but likewise for the dreadful calamities, which some of you shall live to see ; for many afflictions and trials are coming on you, and it behoves you betimies to arm yourselves against them with prayers and tears.' Weep for your children, since on them the judgments of obduracy and unbelief shall come ; for they shall live to see the days of the unparelleled miseries of the Jewish people during the siege of Jerusalem, and shall perish in them. Alas ! did you but know what dreadful judgments of God, both spiritual and temporal, are now hovering over the heads of your children, and with what rigour the divine vengeance will require my blood at your hands, you would certainly spare those tears which you now shed for me, to deplore the wretchedness of your unhappy descendants; for on denouncing their calamities, a few days ago, I myself could not refrain from .weeping (Luke xix. 41.) Upon this follows,
2. A denunciation of the approaching divine judg. ments, which should have been the motives for the daughters of Jerusalem, to weep for themselves and for their children: Forbehold the days are coming, in which they shall say, blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare and the paps that never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us ! and to the hills, cover us !'
In these words, our dying Saviour fortels the destruction of Jerusalem, and the utter devastation of Judea, by the Romans; which he had before predicted at different times, and upon several occasions.
Behold saith our blessed Lord, your house is left un to you desolate, (Luke xiii. 35.) For the clay shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee around, and keep 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, (Lukc
xix. 43, 44.) o Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stoneth them who are sent unto thee! how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not? Behold. your house is left unto you desolate, (Matt. xxiii. 37, 38.) And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple ; and the disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said unto them, see ye not all these things ? Verily, I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down,' (Matt. xxiv. 1, 2.) And now, a few hours before his death, Jesus de nounces these woes for the last time. In order to set before the Jews the greatness of the misery which should come on their children, in a clearer and more emphatical manner, he makes use of two figurative expressions, borrowed from the writings of the pro phets.
In the first place, our blessed Saviour says, 'Bem hold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.' Now the barrenness of women was accounted by the Jews a part of the Divine curse, and consequently an extreme disgrace. Hence Rachel in the old Testament, and Elizabeth in the new, (Gen. xxx. 23. Luke i. 25.) when they grew pregnant, praised God for having taken away their reproach. On the other hand, fecundity was looked upon as a singular honour, and a mark of the Divine favour. When Christ therefore here declares that the time was coming, when barren women would be accounted much happier than those who had borne and suckled many children, he gives the Jews to understand, that a terrible day of vengeance was approaching; which would be more especially so to fathers and mothers of families, whose personal calamities would be doubled hy the misery of their children. Here our blessed