« ZurückWeiter »
mendously severe were the agonies of his spirit, while it lasted. It was a death as shameful as unmerciful: nakedly exposed to the gaping and insulting mob! reduced to a level with the worst of malefactors! reproached, even by them, with want of power, while he knew that his restraint of power was needful for the eternal welfare of his creatures; that suffering was the road to his own and their future glory: in short, being reflected upon as an IMPOSTOR, must alone have added fresh wounds to his afflicted spirit, already oppressed with bodily suffering! But these were light trials! trifling sorrows! compared to the still more dreadful conflict his mind endured. What pangs-what doubtswhat desponding imaginations, must have assaulted his whole frame, to have drawn these words from the immaculate Jesus; MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN FORSAKEN ME? Truly, this was the hour of darkness! The whole force of diabolical temptations was doubtless mustered, to endeavour to defeat his triumph. In the dread moment of this despairing exclamation, we may suppose his human nature felt all the weight of horror which the unpardoned sinner will experience, from the total want of his Creator's love! In that single moment, the man Christ Jesus was become an actual sacrifice. Condemned, deserted, and deprived of hope, doubtless he felt, as much as possible, the rigid
demands of infinite justice: for, to be forsaken of God is the EXTREME of MISERY. This was the final tribute of his astonishing love towards his fallen creatures: in this he paid the ut.nost purchase for power to redeem them. It was necessary he should feel as a human being, what was due to sin, by a partial separation from the Source of any real comfort. And this is clearly signified by the bitter exclamation of his closing passion.
It remains, to complete our proper sense of this transaction, that we impress our minds with the true manner of Christ's sufferings. It was in his human nature only that he can be allowed to suffer. His visible body underwent the barbarity of the Jews and soldiers, and his human soul was the seat of the fears and horrors that his agonizing words describe to have passed within him: thus St. Peter (1 Ep. iii. 18) expresses it, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. And St. Paul confirms the same, in saying, He hath reconciled us in the body of his flesh through death. (Col.i. 22.) Christ's divine nature gave the value to what be bore in his human frame. The same person was God and man, who endured all this; but the man only suffered; the divine nature neither did, nor could suffer any thing. Yet that they partook of such a mysterious union, as truly to constitute one person, we learn from the lan
guage of the Holy Scripture, which in the Acts (xx. 28) describes the purchase of the church to be by God's own blood. In 1 Cor. ii. 8, He, whom they crucified, is styled the Lord of glory. -After all, as before observed, this is a grand mystery exceeding the penetration or conception of degenerated finite beings; and these remarks are so far useful, to prevent our lessening the merit of the act, in ascribing it to mere man, and also lest we should confound the nature of the divine Person, and thus assent to a contradiction.
However unequal the powers of a mortal certainly prove to paint our Saviour's real sufferings; yet what has been attempted, may afford some faint idea of their nature. A serious meditation on the severity of his burden, and the cause of his enduring it, furnishes the most proper application that can be made of such vast concern to our eternal interests; for which reason I shall not proceed to enlarge upon the remainder of this article of our faith, which will afford abundant matter for another Lecture; but conclude in a pointed address to the grateful feelings of all who hear me (in which I humbly pray to consider my own case, as deeply interested as that of any one).
What returns, my brethren, can we, poor sinners, make for such an instance of condescending love? Can they possibly be too great?
What could the hardest trials of the longest life afford, proportionate to the value of our Redeemer's sufferings? How would the utmost service that the BEST of us could pay, bear any comparison with the excellence of the reward that is obtained for us? Never, then, let us henceforth murmur at our lot; but if impatience or discontent assault us, let us reflect what CHRIST endured; what we must have merited through fallen nature, to have subjected HIM to bleed, and consequently from what a depth of misery we have been saved by his obedience. Let us not be content barely to say, we love God; for that, too often, is a form of words without truth or meaning. It is learnt when young, and used as we grow up, but seldom hath the virtue the words bespeak. We cannot surely love HIM too much, who hath so loved us, as not to spare his own Son from suffering for our sakes, who loved us even when we were enemies. Our love then must be shown by such marks as really prove it to be sincere—for if we truly love God, we shall have no other will but his. To love God (my brethren) is to love, if so appointed us, what Christ loved, for our sakes, viz. poverty, humiliation, and suffering: then may we hope, that, as we are partakers of the suffering, so shall we be also of the consolation. Nay more, it is also to hate what he hated, this wicked world, and all its dangerous vanities. For not only conscience, but common sense,
will plead against us, in showing it impossible to love an object which we do not principally desire to imitate and to resemble.
Surely you will agree, that love must be feigned, or very shallow indeed, which does not desire to see the object of its professed regard; and how can we hope to see him, if we lead unholy lives? Can it be possible for us, my friends, after all we have heard and known (and many of us, I trust, feel) to have been done for us, that we can be otherways than earnest in loving such a Saviour; in desiring to converse with him; in wishing to go to him; in resounding his praise both here and hereafter? Is it not natural, is it not our duty and interest, and should it not be our supreme delight, continually to exclaim, in private, and in the congregation, Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee. (Ps. lxxiii. 25.)
O, let this be our constant song every future day of our lives; and then may we safely hope that the Lord will hear the voice of our prayer. Let but humility and gratitude be the pure metives of our bounden sacrifice, and God will afford us such supplies of grace, that we shall love HIM only and eternally: which God grant may be the faithful study of all present, through the mediation, and for the merit's sake of our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To whom, &c.