pest was violent, and its impressions and operations upon soul and body language is not able to express, nor thought to conceive. Behold the holiness of God, and the power of his anger; the evil of sin, and the vengeance of the curse; the exceeding greatness of the love of Christ, and the unsearchable riches of his

grace. Fourthly, The agony was greater than the suffering nature of itself could sustain. 'It subsisted in the person of the Son of God, and by its subsistence was upholden and preserved from dissolution; but though subsisting in this infallible state, it needed and received succour from above. “There appeared an angel unto him from heaven, "strengthening him." What this ministring spirit said, though not expressed, is implied. He spake to the sufferer of the glory of the Father in his sufferings, of the joy set before him, of the honour of finishing the work that he had undertaken, and of the salvation of millions, who would celebrate his triumph with their praises forever. Mysterious dispensation indeed! He who upholds all things by the word of his power, needing support himself, and receiving support from a spirit created and upheld by himself! The strength of the suffering nature was exhausted, while the person suffering in it travelled in the greatness of his strength., Offices performed to him by the servant of the throne, did not decide and terminate the conflict, nor mitigate its violence and fury.These offices strengthened the fainting nature of the almighty sufferer, and enabled it to receive and to bear additional measures and impressions of vengeance. Accordingly, the agony continued and increased, “and he “prayed more earnestly."

III. This reminds us of the third part of our method, which is to speak of the Son of God praying under his agony, after he was strengthened by the offices of the angel.-"Being in an agony,” saith the text, "he prayed smore earnestly.” Every word here is full of meaning and importance. The Son of God prayed-prayed earnestly-prayed more earnestly! By an illustration of each, may his spirit lead us farther into the mystery of the fellowship of his sufferings.

First, Under bis agony, in our nature and stead, the Son of God prayed; and in praying, officiated as our great


high-priest. Prayers for deliverance from the curse, and the bestowing of the blessing, were offered up to God with the sacrifices under the law. On the day of atonement, the high-priest confessed over the scape-goat the iniqui. ties of the children of Israel, deprecated the currse, and implored the acceptance of the sacrifice and the forgive. ness of sin. To this solemn institution, the Son of God conformed his exercise; and, while the sacrifice of him. self burned on the altar, prayed, as our great high-priest, for deliverance from the curse, and for the efficacy and acceptance of his atonement, to the glory of God and the expiation of our iniquities.

Secondly, He prayed earnestly, and with intenseness and fervency of spirit. In a prophesy of his agony and sufferings, David describes his prayer under this remarkable circumlocution, “The words of my roaring;” and a commentary upon it stands in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up "prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears, sunto him that was able to save him from death, and was "heard in that he feared.” “Strong crying," which is the expression in the Epistle, corresponds to "words of roaring," which is the expression in the prophecy; and by both, the intenseness of his spirit rather than the noise of his voice is expressed. Under impressions of the holiness of God, and the power of his anger, the evil in sin, and the vengeance in the curse, he poured out his heart like, water, before the face of the Lord; and, with intenseness of soul, and fervency of utterance, and assurance of hearing, made: supplication unto him for support to his suffering nature, and victory over principalities and powers, for the acceptance of his sacrifice, and for deliverance from the power of death, by a resurrection on the third day.

Thirdly, He prayed more earnestly. We should not allow ourselves to think that there had been a defect in the former prayer, In his devotions, earnestness had been always perfect. But there are degrees in perfection; and, while he continued in prayer, his earnestness rose from one degree of perfection to another. For the rise in his earnestness, two causes are assigpable-the offices which the, angel performed to his suffering nalure, and the continuance and increase of his agony. Encouraged by the tender and kind offices of the angel, and strengthenect witlr

assurances, by that servant of his Father, of the glory which would follow his sufferings, bis dying nature revived, his hope rose to the highest elevation of earnest expectation, and his intensebess in prayer increased in proportion. On the other hand, his agony continued and increased. It was not in the power of the angel to bear a part of the gries; this the sufferer did not need. Neither was it

among his instructions to promise that the Father would spare; this the sufferer knew could not be done, and did not desire to be done. The work of the servant was to revive his dying nature, and to strengthen it to hear the vengeance of the law under which he stood. When this work was done, the servant withdrew and disappeared, and the conflict becoming immediately more violent, the Son of God, who in our nature is bigh-pricst, altar, and sacrifice, prayed more earnestly.

IV. The effect of the agony upon the body of the Son of God is to be described in the last place. “His s“sweat was as it were great drops of blooil falling down "to the ground.”-Sweat followed sin into the world. The first man, who was on the earth, sinned; and the “Lord God said unto lin, In the sweat of thy face shalt "thou eat brcad till thou return to the ground.”- The second man, who is the Lord from heaven, knew no sin; but was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and in his body bore the sins of many. Accordingly, sweat, which is a part of the likeness of our sinful fleshi, broke out, under his agony, all over his holy body. This extraordinary sweat is an effect of the agony of his suffering nature, under the execution of the curse. The conflict must have been violent, and the oppression heavy beyond conception, when his holy body throw out sweat of such a quality. In ordinary circumstances, the cold of the night and the ciampness of the ground, would have stopped the pores of perspiration, and prevented sweat from breaking out. But in Gethsemane the circumstances were extraordinary. The weight of the power bruising the Son of God, in our padure and in our stead, would have grinded the creation to powder; and the fire, burving the sacrifice of himself, by which he put away sin, would have melted the earth, caused the ocean to boil, and turned the whole universe into a heil

AFTER some observations, we shall conclude with an exhortation to the believing part of our hearers; and an address unto the unbelieving part.

Observe, 1st, In the agony of the Son of God, the evil of sin appears in a stronger light than ever it had appeared before. Righteous judgments, executed upon incorrigible sinners, had demonstrated it to be the only evil, and the cause of every other evil; but when judgment without mercy was executed upon the Son of God, the demonstration become seven-fold clearer and more awful. Oh, that men would consider this demonstration. It is one of the hard.est tasks in the world to persuade many that sin is as vile as the word of God has represented, and deserves all that vengeance which his law hath denounced and threatened. Multitudes are not so properly sorry for their sins against the law of God, as for the severity of the law of God against their sins, and deceive themselves with an imagination of their own heart,-that temporal offences cannot draw after them everlasting misery. Before a reasonable man will admit such an imagination, he must have in his eye all the ends and designs which God can possibly have in punishing transgressions of his law; and see proved, that these may be obtained as agreeably to his perfections by temporal, as by eternal misery.

2dly, In the agony of his beloved Son, the holiness of God breaks forth in a brightness of glory exceeding the lustre of every other manifestation of it to the world. When the strength of Egypt was overthrown in ihe Red Sea, Moses taught the children of Israel to sing, “Who is "like unto thee, O Lord, amongst the gods! who is like "ibec, glorious in holin ss!” When fire came out of his pavilion, and devoured Nadab and Abihu, Moses said unio Aaron, “This is that which the Lord spake, saying, I “will be sanctified in them who come nigh me, and before "all the people I will be glorified.”—When he smote the men of Beth-shemish for looking into his ark, the surviving citizens said, “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord

God."- In these righteous judgments, holiness, and the glory of holiness appear. But an appearance unspeakably brighter and more awful breaks fortis before the world in Gethsemane,—the Son of God, in our nature, in our stead, and under onr iniquities, offering himself upon the altar, and holiness kindling, as the flame of devouring fire, and burning the sacrifice. Behold, and say again, “Who is

able to stand before this holy Lord God?"---Whose voice is this? “Why art thou so far from helping me, and from "he words of my roaring? () my God, I cry unto thee in rithe day-time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, Cand am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou who inha"bitest the praises of Israel!”-Observe, () hearer, these words, “But thou art holy." Observe the connection in which they stand, and the occasion to which they refer. Consider the sufferer, for whom they were prepared, and the complacency with which he uttered them under his sufferings.

Silly, In the agony of his dear Son, the appearance of the wrath of God is like devouring fire. None of the elements is fiercer, or more terrible to our senses, than fire. The appearance of it is dreadful, the force of it is irresistible, and the pain which is the effect of it is intoler. able. “Unquenchable fire" is among the metaphors of everlasting punishment, and a sensible representation of the meaning and force of the words, anger, wrath, fury, indignation, vengeance. The whole terror inplied in these words, and in the metaphor "devouring fire,” took hold of the Son of God in his agony, melted his heart in the midst of his bowels, dried up the strength of his body, and pierced his soul with pangs of inconceivable anguish. What made him sore amazed, and exceeding sorrowful? It could not be pre-apprehensions of scourging, crucifixion, and mockery. Martyr's, for his sake, have endured these without amazement. An invisible hand pressed his holy body, and an invisible sword passed through his holy soul. The sins of many being laid upon him by imputation, and bound on him by his own engagement to bear them, bis righteous Father, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, proceeded, according to the law under which he stood, wounding him for the transgressions which were violations of it, and bruising him under the iniquities which he had engaged to bear.

4thly, Under the agony of the Son of God, his love to the men whom the Father had given bim appears unspeakably and inconceivably great. Paul, who had considered the heighth and depth, and length and breadth of this object, affirms, that it “passeth knowledge.” Love greater, love equal, love comparable to it, doth not esist

« VorigeDoorgaan »