Let thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants: and that they may obtain their petitions; make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
A reading from the sermons of Thomas Wilson
And God knows, we have great reason … to mourn, whether we consider the general state of Christianity, or the wicked lives of particular Christians. […] To see people, for instance, who profess to have here no abiding-place, yet setting up their rest upon earth, as if they were sure, as if they desired, never to leave it; to see Christians, who are bound by their profession to love one another, rejoicing and taking pleasure in the misery and ruin of each other; to hear people beg of God to forgive them their trespasses, as they are ready to forgive others, and at the same time resolving not to forgive the least offence against themselves without full satisfaction; to see the rich oppressing the poor, and the poor envying the rich, as if the rich were not accountable to God, nor the poor expected any amends in the next world for what they want in this; to see parents educating their children after such a manner as if they intended their eternal ruin; teaching them to love the world, instead of renouncing it; gratifying them in every thing that is vain and sinful, and suffering them to content themselves with a bare outward form of religion, without knowing any thing of its power, or of that ‘holiness without which no man may see the Lord’ (Heb 12:14); to see pastors as little concerned for the flocks committed to their charge, as if, in truth, they were so many beasts whose souls would die with their bodies, and for which they were never to give an account; in one word, to see the greatest part of Christians live without faith, without hope, without charity, without fear; hat is, without any true religion; to see them living at this rate, without apprehending any manner of danger, neglecting the day of grace which God has afforded them for their salvation, and never considering ‘that the night cometh when no man can work; (Jn 9:4): can any Christian see and consider all this, and where it must end, and not be moved with sorrow and compassion, as our Lord was, for the eternal miseries which unthoughtful Christians are bringing upon themselves? Can they forebear to mourn in secret and beg of God to pity and cure these disorders, and the blindness of sinners, who do not see the danger of neglecting the time of visitation, and the day of grace?
It was this that moved our Lord’s compassion for Jerusalem, because she ‘knew not the time of her visitation’ (Lk 19:44), and because that was the occasion of her ruin. She knew not; that is, she would not know it. She would not see the sin that occasioned it; she would not believe the Prophets that foretold it; she would not receive the Son of God, who came to warn her of her approaching ruin, and who would, no doubt of it, have delivered her from it, would she have improved the means of salvation so mercifully afforded her; for it was as easy for God to have saved that whole nation from destruction, as he did those few that believed, whom he delivered as by a miracle from that desolation which soon after followed.
Now, these things, good Christians, were written for our example that we may see the danger of not knowing the day of visitation. For that is an appointed time in which God offers grace to sinners, and an opportunity of working out their salvation; and that when this is neglected and past, sinners have nothing to expect but judgment without mercy; that this is so, is plain from this, and from many other instances and parts of holy Scripture.