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the greatest wrongs; his patience, in contentedly enduring the saddest adversities; his intire resignation to the will and providence of God; his peaceable submission to the law and power of man; his admirable charity, in pitying, in excusing, in obliging those by his good wishes, and earnest prayers for their pardon, who in a manner so injurious, so despiteful, so cruel, did persecute him, yea, in gladly suffering all this from their hands for their salvation; his unshakeable faith in God, and unalterable love toward him, under so fierce a trial, so dreadful a temptation. All these excellent virtues and graces, by the matter being thus ordered, in a degree most eminent, and in a manner very conspicuous, were demonstrated to the praise of God's name, and the commendation of his truth; for the settlement of our faith and hope, for an instruction and an encouragement to us of good practice in those highest instances of virtue.
It is a passable notion among the most eminent Pagan sages, that no very exemplary virtue can well appear otherwise than in notable misfortune. Whence it is said in Plato, that to approve a man heartily righteous, he must be scourged, tortured, bound, have his two eyes burnt out, and in the close, having suffered all evils, must be impaled, or crucified. And, It was,' saith Seneca, the cup of poison which made Socrates a great man, and which out of prison did transfer him to heaven,' or did procure to him that lofty esteem, affording him opportunity to signalise his constancy, his equanimity, his unconcernedness for this world and life. And, 'The virtue,' saith he again, and the innocence of Rutilius would have lain hid, if it had not (by condemnation and exile) received injury; while it was violated, it brightly shone forth.' And he that said this of others, was himself in nothing so illustrious, as in handsomely entertaining that death to which he was by the bloody tyrant adjudged. And generally, the most honorable persons in the judgment of posterity for gallant worth, to this very end (as such philosophers teach) were by divine Providence delivered up to suffer opprobrious condemnations and punishments, by the ingrateful malignity of their times. So that the Greeks, in consistence with their own wisdom and experience, could not reasonably scorn that cross which our
good Lord (did not only, as did their best worthies, by forcible accidental constraint undergo, but) advisedly by free choice did undertake, to recommend the most excellent virtues to imitation, and to promote the most noble designs that could be, by its influence.
So great reason there was that our Lord should thus suffer as a criminal.
II. We may consider that in that kind his suffering was most bitter and painful. Easily we may imagine what acerbity of pain must be endured by our Lord, in his tender limbs being stretched forth, racked, and tentered, and continuing for a good time in such a posture; by the piercing his hands and his feet,' parts very nervous and exquisitely sensible, with sharp nails, (so that, as it is said of Joseph, the iron entered into his soul;') by abiding exposed to the injuries of the sun scorching, the wind beating, the weather searching his grievous wounds and sores. Such a pain it was; and that no stupifying, no transient pain, but one both very acute and lingering: for we see that he, together with his fellow-sufferers, had both presence of mind and time to discourse. Even six long hours did he remain under such torture, sustaining in each moment of them beyond the pangs of an ordinary death. But as the case was so hard and sad, so the reason of it was great, and the fruit answerably good. Our Saviour did embrace such a passion, that, in being thus content to endure the most intolerable smarts for us, he might demonstrate the vehemence of his love; that he might signify the heinousness of our sins, which deserved that from such a person so heavy punishment should be exacted; that he might appear to yield a valuable compensation for those pains which we should have suffered; that he throughly might exemplify the hardest duties of obedience and patience.
III. This manner of suffering was (as most sharp and afflictive, so) most vile and shameful; being proper to the basest condition of the worst men, and unworthy of a freeman, however nocent and guilty. It was servile supplicium, a punishment never by the Romans, under whose law our Lord suffered, legally inflicted on freemen, but on slaves only; that is, on people scarcely regarded as men, having in a sort forfeited or
lost themselves. And among the Jews that execution which most approached thereto, and in part agreed with it, (for their law did not allow any so inhuman punishment,) hanging up the dead bodies of some that had been put to death, was held most infamous and execrable for, cursed,' said the law, is every one that hangeth on a tree;' cursed, that is, devoted to reproach and malediction; accursed by God,' saith the Hebrew, that is, seeming to be rejected by God, and by his special order exposed to affliction.
Indeed, according to the course of things, to be set on high, and for continuance of time to be objected to the view of all that pass by, in that calamitous posture, doth infuse bad suspicion, doth provoke censure, doth invite contempt and scorn, doth naturally draw forth language of derision, despite, and detestation; especially from the inconsiderate, hard-hearted, and rude vulgar, which commonly doth think, speak, and deal according to event and appearance: (-Sequitur fortunam semper, et odit damnatos-) whence Ocarpi2eola, 'to be made a gazing-stock,' or an object of reproach to the multitude, is by the Apostle mentioned as an aggravation of the hardships endured by the primitive Christians. And thus in extremity did it befal our Lord: for we read that the people did in that condition mock, jeer, and revile him, drawing up their noses, abusing him by scurrilous gestures, letting out their virulent and wanton tongues against him; so as to verify that prediction, ‹ I am a reproach of men, and despised of the people : all they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord, let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.'
The same persons who formerly had admired his glorious works, who had been ravished with his excellent discourses, who had followed and favored him so earnestly, who had blessed and magnified him, ('for he,' saith St. Luke, taught in the synagogues, being glorified by all,') even those very persons did then behold him with pitiless contempt and despite. In correspondence to that prophecy, they look and stare on me,' ElorηKEL & Xaòs Dewpwv, the people stood gazing' on him, in a most scornful manner, venting contemptuous and spiteful reproaches; as we see reported in the evangelical story.
Thus did our blessed Saviour endure the cross, despising the shame.' Despising the shame,' that is, not simply disregarding it, or (with a stoical haughtiness, with a cynical immodesty, with a stupid carelessness) slighting it as no evil; but not eschewing it, or not rating it for so great an evil, that to decline it he would neglect the prosecution of his great and glorious designs.
There is innate to man an aversation and abhorrency from disgraceful abuse, no less strong than are the like antipathies to pain: whence cruel mockings and scourgings are coupled as ingredients of the sore persecutions sustained by God's faithful martyrs. And generally men with more readiness will embrace, with more contentedness will endure the cruelty of the latter, than of the former; pain not so smartly affecting the lower sense, as being insolently contemned doth grate on the fancy, and wound even the mind itself. For the wounds of infamy do, as the wise man telleth us, go down into the innermost parts of the belly,' reaching the very heart, and touching the soul to the quick.
We therefore need not doubt but that our Saviour as a man, endowed with human passions, was sensible of this natural evil; and that such indignities did add somewhat of loathsomeness to his cup of affliction; especially considering that his great charity disposed him to grieve, observing men to act so indecently, so unworthily, so unjustly toward him yet in consideration of the glory that would thence accrue to God, of the benefit that would redound to us, of the joy that was set before him,' when he should see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied,' he most willingly did accept, and most gladly did comport with it. He became a curse for us,' exposed to malediction and reviling; he endured the contradiction,' or obloquy, 'of sinful men:' he was 'despised, rejected, and disesteemed of men:' he in common apprehension was deserted by God, according to that of the prophet, We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted:' himself even seeming to concur in that opinion. So was he made a curse for us,' that we, as the Apostle teacheth, might be redeemed from the curse of the law; that is, that we might be freed from the exemplary punishment due to our transgressions of the law, with the dis
pleasure of God appearing therein, and the disgrace before the world attending it. He chose thus to make himself of no reputation,' vouchsafing to be dealt with as a wretched slave and a wicked-miscreant, that we might be exempted not only from the torment, but also from the ignominy which we had merited: that together with our life, our safety, our liberty, we might even recover that honor which we had forfeited and embezzled.
But lest any should be tempted not sufficiently to value these sufferances of our Lord, as not so rare, but that other men have tasted the like; lest any should presume to compare them with afflictions incident to other persons, as Celsus did compare them with those of Anaxarchus and Epictetus; it is requisite to consider some remarkable particulars about them. We may then consider that not only the infinite dignity of his person, and the perfect innocency of his life, did enhance the price of his sufferings; but some endowments peculiar to him, and some circumstances adhering to his design, did much augment their force.
He was not only, according to the frame and temper of human nature, sensibly touched with the pain, the shame, the whole combination of disasters apparently waiting on his passion; as God (when he did insert sense and passion into our nature, ordering objects to affect them) did intend we should be, and as other men in like circumstances would have been; but in many respects beyond that ordinary rate: so that no man, we may suppose, could have felt such grief from them as he did, no man ever hath been sensible of any thing comparable to what he did endure; that passage being truly applicable to him, Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like to my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger;' as that unparalleled 'sweating out great lumps of blood' may argue; and as the terms expressing his resentments do intimate. For, in respect of present evils, he said of himself, My soul is exceeding sorrowful to death; he is said adnuoveir, to be in great anguish and anxiety, to be in an agony or pang of sorrow. In regard to mischiefs which he saw coming on, he is said to be disturbed in spirit,' and to be sore amazed,' or dismayed at them. To