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LUKE Xxfii. 28. Daughters of Jerufalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
HIS is a day of trouble, of rebuke, and blaja TH
phemy; distinguished in the annals of our nation, and the kalendar of our church, by the fad luffering of an excellent prince, who fell a facrifice to the rage of his rebellious fubjects; and, by his fall, derived infamy, misery, and guilt on them; and their sinful posterity in... VOL. IV.
We are 'met here, to acknowledge our sin, to express our public deteftation of it, and to deprecate the vengeance, which hath pursued, and doth ftill, I fear, pursue us on the account of it. In order to raise and improve these good thoughts and dispositions, I have pitched on the words fpoken by our blessed Saviour, in his fad proceffion towards Gulvary, as the ground of our prea fent meditations - Daughter of Jerusalem, óc.
Since Providence so ordered it, that one of the lessons for that day, whereon the royal martyr fuffered, and which was read to him just before his ascending the scaffold, should contain an account of the passion of our Lord; and the famc leflon is ftill, by authority, appointed to be read in these annual assemblies; I may be allowed, I hope, from the history of that paflion, written by St. Luke, to take the words you have heard, and apply them to the subject I am now about to handle, without incurring the imputation of draw. ing unfeemly parallels, and without giving offence to any, but those, who are offended with the anniversary itself, and with our folemn and devout manner of observing it.
As Jefus went to his crucifixion St. Luke tells us, that “ there followed him, a great company
of people, and of women, which also bewailed * and lamented him. But Jefus turning unto “ them, faid, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not « for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your « children; For, behold the days are coming, 4 in the which they-Thall say, Bleffed are the « barren, and the wombs that never bare, and “the paps that never gave fuck!" His present
fufferings, fufferings, and approaching death, withheld him not from reflecting with concern on the calamities, which were ready to overtake others on his account. And, because the women who follow. ed him to Calvary, out of a tenderness of nature peculiar to their sex, indulged hemtelves in the loudest expressions of grief; therefore to these he particularly addresses the admonition of the text; - directs them to turn their well-meant compassion from him upon themfelves; to reserve all their tears for a time, now at hand, when the whole nation of the Jews would be called to a strict account for spilling his blood, and be made an astonishing instance of divine vengeance.
The good prince, whose unhappy fate we com. memorate, did in this, as well as other refpects, follow the steps of “ the great Captain of his fal. vation, who was made perfect thro' sufferings :" Heb i. 10. For the last moments of his life, which his murderers allowed him, were employed in da wakening a drowsy nation into a sense of its guilt, and a dread of its impending punishment. Secure of his own innocence and happiness, he seemed to have conquered all concern for himfelf; and, like a true father of his people, was chiefly folicitous for the peace and welfare of his people. His dying words breathed nothing but pity and tena derness towards his subjects, who were to survive his fall, and to feel the sad effects of it. And therefore to those, who with weeping eyes then beheld that bloody scene, and to us, who witła, like grief now look on at a distance, may we suppose the royal fufferer (consistently with the chasacter be then maintained) to say, “Weep not
for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.”
This I am sure, is an instruction, which the day itself seems naturally to afford us, and which I thall, therefore, pursue in both its branches; shewing you,
I. First, That we misplace our grief, if we employ it in bewailing and lamenting our martyred fovereign; And,
II. Secondly, That the true end of these annual bumiliations is, “to weep for ourfelves, and for our children;" to deplore the guilt which our fore-fathers contracted by this inhuman dced, and which, we have reason to fear, is not even yet fully expiated.
I. First, In the early ages of the church, the custom was annually to observe those days, on which the martyrs were crowned (such was the language of that time), not with dejected looks, or any outward expressions of forrow; but with the folemnities usual on birth-days (and such also they were styled), even with all possible instances of devout exultation and joy. Upon these occasions, pious Cbriftians flocked to the places, where those faithful servants of Christ flept, or had sealed the truth of their teftimony with their blood : There they held their facred assemblies (as they afterwards built their churches). There they made their euchariftic oblations, and celebrated their feasts of love; gave thanks to God for the exemplary vistues and graces, which adorned the
lives and deaths of those holy persons, and excited themselves into like degrees of Christian zeal and fervor.
Their behaviour in these cases should be the rule of ours, and teach us to observe this anniversary in such a manner, as may render it most honourable to the dead, and most useful to the living. To that end, it will become us, not vainly to indulge our grief, or our resentments, in behalf of our much-injured prince; not fruitlesly to spend our time in lamenting his inisfortunes; but rather to employ it in magnifying the grace of God, which enabled him so constantly to endure them, and so heartily to forgive the authors of them; which armed him with such a wondrous degrec of meekness and patience; inspired him with fuch Christian magnanimity and courage, as inade hiin fhine with a greater lustre in the depth of his sufferings, than he did in his most flourishing cire cumstances; and put off his ciown after a more glorious manner, than he first wore it on the day of his coronation.
Indeed, the mind of man, filled with vain ideas of worldly pomp and greatness, is apt to admire those princes moft, who are most fortunate, and have filled the world with the fame of their successful atchievements. But to those, who weigh things in the balance of right reason, and truc religion, it will, I am persuaded, appear that the character of this excellent king, even while he was in his lowest and not afflicted state, had something it, more truly great and noble, than all the triumphs of conquerors; fomething, that raised biin as far above the moit prosperous princes, as