« VorigeDoorgaan »
At Golgotha, Calvary, and the place of skulls. The place of skulls was a particular territory of the kingdom of darkness, where the devil had exerted his power, and where sin had reigned unto death. Skulls were sensible proofs of the power of death, which the curse had placed in his hand, and sensible trophies of victories obtained by exertions of this power. In this place, the adversa y prepared for the Seed of the woman instruments of death; in this place, he surrounded him with guards, nailed him to a tree, inclosed and hemmed him in with blasphemers of his Godhead; and, in this place, thought to have triumphed. But the gloominess of the territory, which darkcned the horror of the defeat, signalized the lustre of the conquest. While trophies of the victories of death lay all around, the Seed of the woman wrested the keys from the tyrant who had the power of death, spoiled the whole host of principalities, made an open shew of these abominable and revengeful adversaries, and entered the strong-hold of their dominion, armed with the power of a conqueror, and covered with the glory of a triumph.
Secondly, These mighty actions in the place of skulls were done upon the cross. The weakness of the rod of Moses magnified the power of which it was the instrument, the blowing of rams horns signalized the downfall of the walls of Jericho, lamps and pitchers celebrated the discomfiture in the valley of Moreh, and the shame of the cross raised the fame and glory of the actions of the Lord our Righteousness on Calvary. This circumstance is expressed with mysterious emphasis. "He became obedi"ent unto death." Is the sentence ended? Was it needful or possible to make it longer? Paul however draws it out, and, with an emphasis and tone impressed by the Holy Ghost, adds, "even the death of the cross." To have broke and dissolved the gates of hell, in a situation advantageous and honourable, would have been a celebrated action; but to do this upon the cross, the instrument of death prepared by themselves, raises the glory of the action to a mystery above our comprehension and our praise. Blind people, who had eyes, saw not the glory of the mystery; and tongues, in the interest of his adversaries, cried, "Come down from the cross." But knowing the strength in his weakness, and the glory in his shame upon the cross, he crushed the adversaries, and yielded up the ghost triumphantly.
Thirdly, These great actions on the cross, in the place of skulls, were done in the nature which the adversaries had spoiled of its glory in paradise, and over its fall, and its misery, ever after triumphed. Before appearing in the field of action, the Son of God humbled himself, and drew a vail over the glory of his person. He went forth not in the nature and strength of an angel, but in the nature and weakness of a man. Nor was he in the original glory of human nature, but in the likeness of sinful flesh. Nothing in his appearance looked great or formidable, or rather every thing seemed little and contemptible. He rose not like a lofty cedar overshadowing courts and thrones, and promising protection to every wing, "but grew up like a root out of "dry ground," and an obscure family, which had no connections with men in power. On the cross, "many were "astonished at his appearance: his visage was so marred "more than any man, and his form more than the sons of "men." His acquaintances and friends on earth stood at a distance, and durst not own him, nor come near him, and testimonies of friendship and connection with heaven were withdrawn. But rushing forth against principalities and powers, in the strength of weakness and the glory of shame, he broke their measures, and destroyed their works, spoiled, crushed, triumphed in the nature which they had ruined, and in the most disadvantageous situation of that nature. The weakness of the nature in which he triumphed, raised the lustre of the conqueror, and augmented the horror of the vanquished. Abimelech accounted it ignominious to die by a weak hand, in his attempt upon Thebez. In the rout of Gilboa, Saul could not bear the thoughts of falling by the sword of the uncircumcised. And in falling under human nature, in Calvary, principalities and powers felt vexation and anguish which we are not able to describe.
Fourthly, These splendid actions were done in our nature, on the cross, in the place of skulls, by the Son of God alone. He had undertaken to do all alone. At the date of his undertaking, creatures were not existing, and when he appeared on the field of action, no creatures, except adversaries, came near him. Words mysteriously emphatical are used to express this part of his praise. "I "have trodden the wine-press alone, and of the people "there was none with me. I looked, and there was none
"to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold; "therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and "my fury it upheld me."* Thousands of angels hovered over the cross, and looked down with astonishment; but none of them appeared on the field, or took part in the action. Disciples came not near him, and friends, who had ministered to him by the way from Galilee to Jerusalem, stood at a distance, and looked from afar. The forces of the enemy covered the whole field, but he was alone. He knew that his Father was with him, and that his Father stood engaged to help, accept, and deliver. He knew his own strength, and that assistance from creatures, could they have given any, was not wanted. In creation he had stretched forth the heavens alone, and spread abroad the earth by himself; and in the great action on the cross, he spoiled principalities and powers alone, and dissolved the gates of hell by himself.
Fifthly, These great actions were all done by the Son of God in our nature, through his crucifixion and death. Under this consideration, the glory of the mystery of these actions rises before us to the highest degree of elevation. Nothing equal to this, nothing similar, nothing comparable, appears in the records of the reign of death. After the fall of a prince in the field of battle, his arms may triumph, but name the hero who triumphed through his death! Samson died with the Philistines, and the sacred historian of that time says, "The dead which he slew at "his death were more than they which he slew in his life." But in recording the operation of the death of the Captain of Salvation, the apostle to the Hebrews uses a different phraseology. "Through death he destroyed him that "had the power of death." The operation of his death upon him who had the power of death is a mystery which, upon the testimony of Scripture, we receive and acknowledge. By the curse of the law, a power of death over the transgressors of the law was placed in the hand of the devil, and till the curse was executed, the power could not be dissolved and made void. But the curse being executed, and the Lawgiver well pleased in the death of his only begotten Son, this terrible power is dissolved, and
*Isa. lxiii. 3, 5.
cannot operate upon those transgressors for whom he died.
After setting forth particulars of the history of our adversaries and destroyers, and descriptions of the person who broke their power on his cross; after explaining his operations against them, and the mystery of the glory of his operations; some observations shall be made, some instructions given, some consolation administered to saints, and some exhortation addressed to sinners.
OBSERVATIONS. In the history of time the crucifixion is a memorable day-a day of power, a day of vengeance, a day of glory and honour, of redemption and liberty.— 1st, A day of power. In the diary of creation, every day is a day of the power of the Son, of God. "By the word "of his power all things were created, visible and invisible, "whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or pow"ers." In the memoirs of providence, every day is a day of his power. "By the word of his power, he upholds all "things," and executes judgment and righteousness in the earth. In the record of redemption, every day is also a day of power. His power is every day exerted, but his exertions are not every day equally glorious, Of all the days of his power in this record, the day of his crucifixion is the most glorious. On this day his power exerted and magnified itself, in breaking the measures and destroying the works of principalities and powers, while the weakness of his suffering nature hid from the natural eye the glory of the mystery of his power.-2dly, A day of vengeance, Upon this memorable day, which before the beginning of days had been in the heart of the Son of God, the measures of principalities and powers were not only broken, but their crimes were punished. These adversaries were criminals as well as powers, and as their crimes multiplied, their punishment rose in proportion. For one offence they had been driven out of heaven, and thrown into hell, But their conspiracy against the glory of God, and the happiness of man, formed in hell and executed in paradise, their triumph over the sin and misery of human nature, their attempts to break the purpose of the Son of God before he appeared to raise up the glory of our fallen nature, and their outrageous opposition to him after he ap
peared, were crimes which cried for immediate vengeance, Accordingly, when these abominable criminals drew up against him in battle array, he put on the garments of vengeance over the weakness of his suffering nature, trode them in his anger, and trampled them in his fury, and laid them under wrath against the great day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.-3dly, A day of glory and honour. When this day drew near, the Lord our Righteousness made the glory of it a subject of prayer, and a theme of discourse. "Father, glorify thy name. "Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have "both glorified it, and will glorify it again." "Now is "the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.— "If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in "himself, and shall straightway glorify him." "Father, "the hour is come, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may "glorify thee-I have glorified thee on earth, I have fin"ished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, "O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the "glory which I had with thee before the world was."‡Read, O hearer, these precious words over and over, commit them to memory, carry them in meditation round the cross, pray for the revelation of the Spirit in the mystery of their glory, and call to mind the memorable day of the crucifixion, in which they were fulfilled, the day in which the Father glorified the Son, and the Son glorified the Father, and in which the Father glorified himself in the Son, and the Son glorified himself in the Father.-4thly, A day of reconciliation, redemption and liberty. On this glorious day, the Son of God gave his life a ransom for many slaves, redeeming them from the curse of the law from the power of darkness, and from the bondage of corruption. On this glorious day, he reconciled to God many enemies, made atonement, by the sacrifice of himself, for the hostilities which they had committed, and removed every thing that stood in the way of their restoration to friendship and honor. And on this glorious day, he obtained freedom for many prisoners and bond-men, and, by dying the death of a slave, set their liberty upon the foundation of law and justice.
*John xii. 28. ↑ John xiii, 31, 32. John xvii. 1, 4, 5.