from the relation which is given of this matter, that whatever was the cause of this distress, he bore it with the same expressions of regard and submission to the will of God, and the same attention to the everlasting interests of men, by which he had been distinguished in all the preceding periods of his life. In the midst of his distress, his attachment to the will of God, and his desire to fulfil the merciful intentions of his providence, fufficiently appeared. When he prayed, ' Father, if it be pof' fible, let this cup pass from me;' he imme

how far an agony of mind might be awakened by the prospect now before him; resembling the anguish of a guilty criminal, when he suffers, and is put to death by the hand of public justice. — That this, or something similar, was really the case, we are led to apprehend from the account which the scriptures give us of the reasons and manner of his death; particularly when they inform us, • That he bore our griefs, and carried 'our sorrows: that he suffered, the just for the unjust, that he "might bring us to God: that he redeemed us from the curse, • being made a curse for us; and, that the Lord laid on him • the iniquity of us all.' These strong expressions seem to signify, that when Jesus suffered death, it was with a peculiar bitterness and agony, because he fuffered it as a propitiation for the sins of men : and that alongst with the external pains and agonies of his accursed death upon the cross, he suffered all that inward anguish and astonishment which it was possible, or proper for the justice of Almighty God, to cause him to undergo, who was to expiate the fins of men, and to give finfat creatures a sufficient impression of the guilt and demerit of their crimes.

diately subjoined those memorable words, 6.* Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be idone. If this cup may not pass from me ex.

'cept I drink it, thy will be done;' i. e. If what I now ask, is not consistent with the wise and gracious purposes of Providence ; if it should obstruct the great design for which I came into this world; it is what I neither ask nor choose: in that case I relinquish my request, and resign the matter wholly to thy holy will. Thus did the piety and goodness of his heart triumph over the reluctancy and weakness of his nature.—The fortitude and resignation of a virtuous man under the calamities of life, does not signify, that he is insensible of the greatness and weight of his ca. lamity; but that feeling it, according to the natural constitution of a man, he nevertheless willingly resigns himself into the hand of God, and proceeds immoveably to act the virtuous and worthy part affigned him by his providence. This was evidently the situation of Jesus' mind, when he was in agony, and prayed unto his heavenly Father, · Thy will o be done.'

This fame state of mind was farther fignified, by his mild and gentle treatment of his friends, in the midst of his distress. When

* Luke xxii. 42. Mat, xxvi. 42.

they fell asleep, he gently reproved them, for their inattention and stupidity ; but added an apology in their behalf, which nothing could have suggested, but that same benignity and goodness, which was conspicuous in every action of his life: '* What, could ye not watch

with me one hour? The spirit indeed is wil'ling, but the flesh is weak.'—When a perfon is overcome by affliction and distress, and struggles against it with a reluctancy that is inconsistent with the fortitude and patience of a virtuous mind; all the soft and kind emotions of the heart subside, and an unfeeling sullenness and discontent usually fucceeds. When, therefore, under the feverest pressures of distress, the sufferer preserves that same goodness and benignity which he had expreffed in the most serene and easy circumstances of his life; he gives in that case, the strongest proof of his fortitude and patience, and that he still retains the full poffeffion and enjoyment of himself. This was the mind

that was in Christ,' even at this dark and mournful period of his life.

Immediately after Jesus had come out of this astonishment, and had prayed unto his Father in the manner we have seen, he proceeded to his last sufferings and dcath, with

* Mat. xxvi. 40.

the fame determined resolution which he had expressed before. When Judas and his band of officers appeared, he most readily and chearfully put himfelf into their hands *, Judas then having received a band of men, and officers from the chief priests and Pharifees, cometh thither with lanthorns, and

torches and weapons. Jesus therefore know‘ing all things that should come upon him, ' went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek 'ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth, • Jefus faith unto them, I am he'. A circumftance is here mentioned by the Evangelist which is remarkable. When Jesus inform. ed the foldiers that he was the person whom they fought, t. they immediately started back,and fell to the ground. Whether this proceeded from a conviction of his innocence and dignity, which at that instant ftruck them irresistibly, or from fome ex. traordinary exertion of the power of Jesus ; it shows he might have easily confounded and dispersed them, if it had been his choice; and that therefore, it was entirely with his own consent, that they apprehended him.

At the same time, he cured the servant's ear, which the apostle Peter had cut off: acquainting Peter, that if he pleased he could

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

pray to God, and receive the affistance of his mighty angels; but that he was determined to decline all resistance in that matter; knowing that what he was to suffer, was agreeable to the will of God, as declared and predicted by his prophets.

After Jesus had been betrayed and apprehended, we shall find through the whole of his deportment, till he expired upon the cross, such expressions of benignity and meekness towards men, and of submission to the will of God, accompanied with such a generous concern to accomplish those important ends of Providence for which he had come from heaven, as in a very particular manner manifest the spirit of his character.—We may consider in this light, * the mild and gentle manner in which he addressed the soldiers who had come to apprehend him; ' Are ye come out as against a thief with fwords and staves to to take me? I fat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on ine. - The gentleness of mind with which he received Judas who betrayed him, +. Friend, wherefore 'art thou come?!~The answer which he made to the disciples when they attempted to resist the foldiers; † The cup which my Fa'ther hath given me shall I not drink it?'


* Mat. xxvi. 55.

+ Mat. xxvi. 30.

John xviii, 30.

« VorigeDoorgaan »