66 cross, despising the shame; and is set down at the " right hand of the throne of God. *" The Baptist may be supposed to have addressed his disciples to this effect: You want pardon of your sins, and deliverance from the power and pollution of iniquity : "Behold" then "the Lamb of God who taketh away "the sin of the world." He alone can confer these blessings; apply to him, become his disciples, rely on him entirely, and follow implicitly his directions; thus you will be saved, and be made instrumental to the salvation of your fellow sinners.'

But we may understand the call in a more comprehensive sense, as an exhortation to meditate seriously and frequently on the great doctrines thus revealed; to behold and contemplate the person and redemption of Christ with fixed attention and humble faith. He seems to address us from the cross, and to say, "Is "it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and "( see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, "which is done unto me; wherewith the LORD hath "afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger.t" Let us then turn our thoughts from all other subjects, and with believing application to ourselves, contemplate the interesting scene, which we this day comme


We cannot well enter on such meditations, without adverting to the language of the sacred writers, concerning the essential and eternal Deity of Christ,

[blocks in formation]

One with the Father, the Creator and Upholder of all worlds, the Object of universal worship and adoration. We consider this glorious Person coming in the flesh to be the Saviour of the world, to seek and save the lost, from mere love and compassion to deservedly perishing sinners. The spotless purity of his human nature; the perfection of his obedience to the divine law; the depth of his voluntary humiliation; the poverty and contempt, and the contradiction of sinners, which he endured through life, demand our most serious attention. He effected not his gracious purposes in our behalf, as a Monarch or a Conqueror; he taught not as a Philosopher or a Moralist: "but he took upon him the form of "a servant," and " gave his life a ransom for "many."


We should, however, especially contemplate the variety and intenseness of his sufferings, in the closing scene of his humiliation: the excruciating pain he endured, from the scourge, the thorns, and the nails, and when hanging on the accursed tree; with the anguish of mind he felt when agonizing in the garden, and when on the cross he exclaimed, "My

God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" It is very important for us to reflect on what the Redeemer suffered from men; from the base treachery of Judas, the unfaithfulness of Peter, the cowardice of the disciples; the cruel injustice of Caiaphas, the scribes, priests, council, and even their servants; from the contempt and indignity put upon him by Herod and his men of war; the cruelty and scorn of

Pilate's soldiers; the lingering tortures of the cross, the ingratitude of the insulting multitude, and the revilings even of the malefactors. We should recol lect likewise, that this was the hour and power of darkness and what gloomy imaginations, and detested thoughts might be presented to the mind of Christ, by the subtle and energetick influence of evil spirits, may be best conceived by those who "are "not ignorant of their devices." "He suffered, being tempted, that he might be able to succour "them that are tempted:" and the assaults of Satan in the desert may convince us, that he would do his utmost, when permitted, to bruise the heel of Him, who came to crush his head and destroy his works.


But we are also taught, that "it pleased the LORD "to bruise him, and to put him to grief: and to "make his soul an offering for sin." Awake, O "sword, against my Shepherd, and against the Man "that is my Fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts; smite "the Shepherd.*" "He spared not his own Son, "but delivered him up for us all." And when we compare our Lord's agony in the garden, and his exclamation on the cross, with the conduct of his own disciples under the severest tortures: we must be convinced that his cup was embittered inconceiv ably more than theirs, and that consolations and supports were vouchsafed them, of which he was wholly left destitute. We cannot explain this subject.

Zech. xiii. 7.

We may be certain, that remorse of conscience, despair, and the prevalence of hateful passions, which will eternally increase the misery of condemned signers, could have no place in the mind of the holy Jesus: but whatever pain, shame, wrath, curse, agony, or misery, he could possibly endure; whatever the justice of God, the honour of the law, and the instruction of the universe in the evil and desert of sin, required; all this the Redeemer suffered, till he could say with his expiring breath, "It is "finished."

It should likewise be remembered, that our Lord most willingly submitted to all these sufferings, from love to our souls and regard to the glory of God. No man had power to take away his life: the prince of this world had no part in him; no personal transgression exposed him to the sentence of death; but "love, that passeth knowledge,” moved him to give himself a propitiatory Sacrifice for our sins! The meekness, patience, and persevering fortitude, with which our Lord suffered, should not pass unnoticed. "He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as


a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened "not his mouth." "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suffered he threatened not.*"

The circumstances attending his crucifixion also form a proper subject of meditation. The sun was

[blocks in formation]

miraculously darkened, as a token of the divine displeasure, and an emblem of the gloom which overspread the Sun of righteousness. Yet, in this deep humiliation of the Lord of glory, he rescued one perishing sinner from the jaws of destruction, and took him with him to paradise. When he expired, "the veil of the temple was rent;" the rocks were torn by an earthquake, the graves were opened, and the preparation made for the resurrection of those saints, who were appointed to grace the triumph of the rising and ascending Saviour. For the event of his sufferings in his personal exaltation; and the complete salvation, in body and soul, of all the unnumbered myriads, which ever did or ever shall believe in him, is the last particular, to which our present meditations should be directed.-But it is time for us to proceed,

IV. To consider the peculiar instructions, to be derived from these contemplations.

The worth of our immortal souls is most emphatically taught us by the cross of Christ. "What " is a man profited if he gain the whole world and "lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Could any one literally gain the whole universe, as the price of iniquity, and keep it with every imaginable advantage during the term of human life; it could neither preserve his body from the grave, nor his soul from eternal misery! "It costs more to redeem the soul: that must be let "alone for ever. "" View the Saviour agonizing in Gethsemane, and expiring on the cross! Did he endure these unknown sufferings to preserve men

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »