« VorigeDoorgaan »
supposed, that he wished them to provide each man his weapon, in order to defend him against his pursuers: but he shewed that he had no such desire, by saying, that two swords, which were all they had among eleven of them, were sufficient. His words seem to intimate, that during the time of his sufferings, and absence from them, they should be left to provide for their own necessities, by natural means; and were not to depend either on miracles, or the benevolence of others, for their support; and that in case they were attacked to the hazard of their lives, they might defend themselves as their own natural courage should suggest. If this was our LORD's meaning, we may infer from the text of Scripture we are considering, that there are occa sions, on which it is not only lawful, but expedient, for Christians to have recourse to arms. Those occasions we may judge to be, when they have no other means of preserving the lives of themselves or families; when the country they inhabit is in danger of invasion; or when an open attempt is made to extirpate Christianity and introduce heathenism.
Our LORD certainly never meant that his holy reli gion, whose principal object was, "PEACE and GOODWILL to men," should be propagated by fire and sword :: or that Christians should engage in civil wars to maintain different modes of FAITH. On the contrary, the Apostles were expressly commanded by our LORD him self, not to resist the persecutions of their countrymen the Jews, by violent methods, but to flee from city to city to avoid them. And the HOLY SPIRIT afterwards taught the Apostles, to consider themselves as engaged in a spiritual warfare, in which they were to make use of none but spiritual armour *.
OUR LORD'S AGONY IN THE GARDEN.
From John, Chap. xviii.-Matt. xxvi.-Luke, xxii.— Mark, xiv.
WHEN JESUS had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into which he entered, and his disciples.
Then cometh JESUS with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
And he took with him Peter, and James, and John, and began to be sorrowful, and very heavy.
Then said he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray, that ye enter not into temptation.
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation: the spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak,
And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.
And when he returned, he found them asleep again (for their eyes were heavy), neither wist they what to answer him.
And he cometh a third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
And Judas also which betrayed him, knew the place for JESUS oft-times resorted thither with his disciples.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Cedron or Kedron was, as its name signified, a dark and shady vale, between Jerusalem and the mount of Olives; through it ran a little brook, which took its name from the place. Gethsemane was a pleasant fertile, garden. It is probable, that our LORD chose this secret retirement, not only to avoid the interruption he might meet with in the city, but also to prevent a tumult when he was apprehended. The garden, it is supposed, belonged to one of his friends; for it seems he had been used to retire to it.
Having offered up his intercession for his apostles, and warned them of what they were to expect, our LORD prepared himself for the dreadful trial which was just at hand; and being firmly resolved to submit to the Divine will, he took three of his apostles with him as witnesses of his behaviour, that they might learn, from his example the duty of resignation, and teach it to the world.
The violent perturbation of mind which our LORD expressed,
expressed, seems to have arisen from the near prospect of his death, and the excruciating torments which would attend it. From such agonies it was natural for human nature to shrink; and our LORD's being subject to them, proved that he was perfect man. On many occasions, he had shewn the utmost compassion for the sorrows of others; can we then wonder that he should feel for himself, when he had a view of every circumstance of indignity and cruelty that would be inflicted on him? The wonder is, that he should willingly submit to them. But notwithstanding CHRIST was desirous to avoid pain, yet he was more desirous of performing the will of his FATHER. It appears from this instance, that our LORD had, like other men, freedom of will. It likewise appears that he was perfectly acquainted with the will of God, which no mere man ever was. This knowledge, as we may judge from other parts of Scripture, was communicated to his soul by the DIVINE WORD, who was united with his human nature, and which never left him; though the influence of the GODHEAD was not exerted so as to controut his will, and prevent those natural emotions of which the human soul is susceptible.
On this occasion, the love of God to mankind was eminently displayed. He permitted his beloved Sox to suffer the pains of humanity, to be touched with the feelings of our infirmities, that he might not be severeto the ignorant and erroneous, but by his obedience purchase salvation for mankind. Our SAVIOUR's love for us, was also testified in the most endearing manner. He resolved to practise in its full extent the duty of resignation to the Divine will, in order to redeem us. * If we take a review of our LORD's life, we shall
* See an excellent Sermon by Dr. Jortin. on this subject.
find, that not only in the present instance, but in all the calamities he endured, he practised the virtue of resig nation. He willingly and patiently submitted to poverty, to procure for us eternal riches. He endured weariness, he exposed himself to the inclemency of the weather, he suffered hunger and thirst, he submitted to a variety of contradictions, misapprehensions, and provocations, that would have raised the anger of the meekest man that ever lived upon earth; and restrained resentment, even when the greatest act of treachery and ingratitude that can be conceived was practised against him. Though zealous at all times for the honour of THE FATHER, never did he express indignation for any private injuries or affronts offered to himself; but, in spite of the illtreatment he met with, continued his kind endeavours to win sinners over to obedience, and save them from ruin. When injured in his reputation, and exposed to the most malicious calumny, he never lost his patience, but forgave his enemies, and continued to go about doing good.
Though from the infirmity of human nature our LORD was cast down at the foresight of the approaching death he was to suffer, and had frequent conflicts with him self, wishing to be saved from the hour of pain and anguish, yet he resolved to submit to the will of GoD: and when he knew that the traitor Judas, and the soldiers who were to apprehend him, were gone forth from the palace of the High-Priest; though he was seized with extreme dejection, fear, horror, and consternation, no impatient word fell from his mouth, nothing that did not express a perfect submission to the will of God: neither did he discover the least impatience or peevishness, when his apostles, instead of watching with him, fell asleep.
Such was the meek and resigned conduct of our