IT was the custom of Judge HALE, for many years, every Loan's day in the afternoon, after evening-sermon, to employ his thoughts upon several subjects of divine contemplation. And as things came into his thoughts, so he put them into writing; which he did for these two reasons: 1. That he might the better fix his thoughts, and keep them from diversion and wandering; 2. That they might remain, and not be lost by forgetfulness or other interventions.
And as this was the occasion and manner of his writing them, so this was all that he intended in them, unless to communicate them to his children, or some particular friends in private: but for publishing them, he had not the least thoughts of any such thing; nor did he ever revise them for that purpose, or even read over some of them since he wrote them. Yet these writings do not obscurely speak their Author, being a lively representation of his soul, and of that learning, wisdom, piety, and virtue, which were so eminent and conspicuous in him; particularly that of " The Great Audit," which one may look upon as his very picture, wherein, representing the Good Steward passing his account, it was impossible for him not to give a lively representation of himself.
And though these writings never underwent the last hand of the Author, and therefore, in respect of that perfection which he could have given to them, be not so complete as they might have been; yet if we consider them in themselves, they will be found to be such as may not only pass in the crowd, but such as are of no common strain.
The subjects of them, indeed, are common themes, yet such as are of the greatest concernment. But the matter of his Meditations upon these subjects is not common for his most extempore writings have a certain genius and energy in them, much above the common rate of writers. And the style is suitable to the matter,-significant, perspicuous, and manly; his words are spirit and life, and carry evidence and demonstration with them, moral and experimental demonstration.
And if we take these writings altogether, and weigh them duly and candidly, we may therein no less observe the excellence of their Author, especially considering in what manner they were written, than in his more elaborate works; and being written and published in this manner, they do more evidently demonstrate his virtuous and pious principles, than if they had been designed to be published, and had been published by himself; which perhaps may render them not less acceptable to some Readers.
JOB 28: 2S.
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is
wisdom; and to depart front evil is understanding.
THE great pre-eminence which man has over beasts is his reason; and the great pre-eminence which one marl has over another is wisdom: though all men have ordinarily the privilege of reason, yet all men have not the habit of wisdom. The greatest commendation which we can ordinarily give to a man is, that he is a wise man; and the greatest reproach that can be to a mean, and. that which is worst resented, is to be called a fool: and yet as much as the reputation of wisdom is valued, and the reputation of folly is resented, the generality of mankind are in truth very fools, and make it the great part of their business to be so; and many that pretend to seek after wisdom, either mistake the thing, or mistake the way to attain it. Commonly those that are the greatest pretenders to wisdom, place it in some little narrow concern, not in its true latitude. And hence it is, that one esteems it the only wisdom to be a wise politician; another, to be a wise naturalist; another, a wise acquirer of wealth: and all these are. wisdoms in their kind; and the world perchance world be much better than it is, if these kind of wisdoms were more in fashion th they are: but these are but partial wisdoms, not the general wisdom which, alone makes a man truly wise.
This excellent man JOB, after a diligent search (in the speech of this chapter) after wisdom, what it is, and where to be found, doth at length make these two conclusions, 1. That the true root of wisdom, who therefore best knew where it was to be found, is none other but Almighty GOD: “GOD understandeth the way thereof, and knoweth the place thereof." (Ver. 23.) And, 2. As Hu alone best knew it, so he best knew how to prescribe the means to attain it. " To man he said, To fear God, that is wisdom that is, it is the proper and adequate wisdom, suitable to, human nature: and we need not doubt but it is so; because He, who best knew, prescribed it to man. And consonant to, this, DAVID, a wise King, and SOLOMON, the wisest of men, affirm, " The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have they that do his commandments." (Psalm cxi. 10.) " The fear of the LoR n is the beginning of wisdom; and the knowledge of the Holy is understanding." (Prow. 9: 10.) And hence it is that the wise man, who had the greatest measure of wisdom of any mere man since the creation of ADAM; who had as great experience and knowledge of all things and persons; who made it his business to search, not only into wisdom, but into madness and folly; who had the greatest opportunity of wealth- and power to make the exactest inquiry therein this wise; and inquisitive, and experienced man, in all his writings, styles the man fearing GOD, the only wise man, and the person that neglects this, the only fool and madman.
To- clear this, I shall show these two things; 1: What it is to fear GOD; 2: That this fear of God is the bestt wisdom, and makes a man really a wise man.
I. Touching-the first of these,-fear is an affection that is much diversified; according to those objects by which it is moved. I shall mention these four:
1, Fear of despondency; which arises from the fear if
some great danger, that is unavoidable, or at least so apprehended; and this is not the fear that is here commended.
2. Fear of terror; which is upon the sense of some great danger, which, though possibly it may be avoided, yet carries with it a great probability; as the fear of mariners in a storm, or the fear that befalls a man in some time or place of great confusion or visible calamity. And this kind of, fear of God is sometimes useful to bring men to repentance after some great sin or apostasy; yet this is not that fear that is here (at least principally) meant, but these two that follow.
3. A fear of reverence; and this fear is raised principally upon the sense of some object full of glory, majesty, and greatness, though there is no cause to expect any hurt from the person or thing thus feared. Thus a subject bears a reverential fear to his Prince, from the sense of his majesty and grandeur; and thus, much more, the majesty and greatness of Almighty GOD excite reverence and awfulness. "Will ye not fear me, says the Loan? Will ye not tremble at my presence?" (,Ten 5: 22.) " Who would not fear thee, O, King of nations!" (Jer. 10: 7.)
4. A fear of caution or watchfulness: this is that which the wise man commends; "Blessed is the man that feareth always." (Prom. 28: 14.) And this fear of caution is a due care not to displease that person from whom we enjoy or hope for good. And these two, the fear of reverence, and the fear of caution, are the principal ingredients in this fear of God which is true wisdom.
Now this fear arises from true apprehensions concerning GOD; and those seem to be principally these three:
1. A true and deep sense of the being of GOD, namely, that there is a most excellent and perfect Being, the Maker of all things. But this is not enough to constitute this fear; for EPICURUS and LUCIAN did believe that there. was a God, yet were without the fear of him.
2. A true and deep sense, knowledge, and consideration of the attributes of Go D. And although all the attributes of God are but so many expressions and declarations of his perfection and excellency, and therefore all contribute to advance the fear of reverence; yet there be some attributes, that seem in a more special manner to raise, as well the fear of reverence, as that of caution, namely, (1,) The majesty and glory of GOD, at which the very Angels of heaven, who are confirmed in an unchangeable estate of happiness, feel an inward, and express an outward reverence. (2.) But majesty and glory without power are not perfect; therefore the sense and knowledge of the almighty power of GOD are a great ground of our fear: He doth whatsoever he pleases; all things had their being from Him, and have their dependence on him. (3.) The deep knowledge of the goodness of GOD, and that goodness not only immanent in himself, but communicative; and from this communicative goodness of God all things had their actual being, and from him they do enjoy it. These are the noblest exciters of the noblest fear, a fear springing from love,- and that love fixing upon the immanent goodness of GOD, which is lovely and perfect, and also upon his communicative goodness, as he is our benefactor; and wherever there is this love, there is this -fear both of reverence and caution. We cannot but honor and reverence, and be careful - to- please, whatsoever we thus love. (4.) A deep sense, knowledge, and consideration of the divine omniscience. If there were all the other motives of fear imaginable, yet if this were wanting, the fear of GOD would be in a great measure abated; for what availeth reverence or caution, if he to whom it is intended do not know it? And what damage can be sustained by a neglect of that fear, if God know it not? But the all-knowing GOD searcheth the very thoughts, and knoweth the heart, and all the actions of our lives: "Not a word in our tongue but he heareth it, and he knows the thoughts afar off." (5.) A deep sense of the holiness and purity of GOD, which must needs cause in him an abhorrence of whatsoever is sinful. (6.) Lastly, A sense of the justice of Goo, who will most certainly distribute rewards to obedience, and to the fear of his name, but punishments to the disobedient, and to those who 'have no fear of him before their eyes. The deep sense of these attributes of the divine perfection excites both the fear of reverence,-and the fear of caution, or fear of offending, either by commission of what may displease God, or by omission of what is pleasing to him.
3. But although this knowledge of GOD may justly excite a fear both of reverence and caution, yet without the knowledge of something else, that fear will be extravagant and disorderly. If a man know that God is just, and will reward obedience and punish disobedience; yet if he knows not what he would have done or omitted, he will indeed fear to displease him, but he will not know how to please, or to obey him: therefore besides the former there must be a knowledge of the will of GOD in things to be done or omitted. We have an excellent transcript of the divine will in the Holy Scriptures; which therefore a man that fears God will study, and observe, and practice. And the very fear of GOD, arising upon the sense of his being and attributes, will make that man very solicitous to know the will of GOD, and how he will be worshipped and served, and what he would have to be done or not to be done. And therefore since the glorious GOD has so far condescended, as by his Providence to send us a transcript of his mind and will, such a person will be very thankful for it, very studious of it, much delighted in it, very curious to observe it, because it is the rule and direction how he may obey, and consequently please, that great GOD whom he fears this word he believes and prizes as his great Charter; and in this word he finds much to excite, and regulate, and direct his fear of GOD: he sees examples of the divine justice against the offenders of his law, of the divine bounty in rewarding obedience to it; threatenings on one hand, promises on the other; greater manifestation of the divine goodness in the redemption of mankind by CHRIST Jesus, and therefore greater obligations, as well to fear as to love such a benefactor.
II. And thus far I have treated of the kinds of the fear of GOD. Now let us see how it doth appear that this fearing man is the wise man; and how the fear of God discovers itself to be the true, and best, and only wisdom. This will appear in these considerations following.
1. Many learned men, considering the great similitude of reason in brutes, have declined to define a man by his reason, and define him rather by his religion; because in this they find no similitude between men and brute beasts for man is the only visible creature that expresseth any inclination to religion, or any exercise of it. I do not stand to justify this opinion in all particulars; only these things are most certain: (1.) that only the human nature seems to have any sense of any regular religion upon it; (2.) that the sense of a Deity, and religion resulting from it, is the great ennobling of the human nature; (3.) that take away the fear of God, and all sense and use of religion fall to the ground. So that the fear of God is the great foundation of religion, and consequently the great ennobling of human nature.
2. Justice is of two kinds: (l.) distributive, which is the justice of a Magistrate or Judge distributing rewards and punishments to every man according to the merits of his cause: (2.) commutative, which is in all dealings between persons; as dealing honestly, keeping promises, and using plainness, sincerity, and truth, in all a man sayeth or does. Both these kinds of justice are effects of excellent wisdom; without these, states, and societies, and persons, fall into disorder, confusion, and dissolution; and therefore those very men who have not this justice, yet value those who have it, and use it. Now the fear of God is that which begetteth and improveth both these kinds of justice. Hence it was that MOSES, in his choice of Judges, directs that they should be "men fearing GOD and hating covetousness." JEHOSAPHAT, in his charge to the Judges, thought this the best expedient to contain them within the bounds of justice, to put them in remembrance before whom, and for whom, they were to judge. And some of the very Heathens themselves were used to set an empty chair in the place of judicature, as an emblem of the presence of GOD, the invisible, and yet all-seeing GOD, as present in the Courts of Justice, observing all that Judges do; and this they-esteemed an excellent means -to keep Judges to their duty. And as in distributive justice, the fear of GOD is a great means to keep and improve it; so in commutative justice, the fear of God gives a secret and powerful law to a man to observe it. And hence it is that JOSEPH could give no greater assurance to his Brethren of his just dealing with them than this; " This do, for I fear GOD." (Gen. xlii. 18.) And on the other side, ABRAHAM could have no greater cause of suspicion of unjust dealing from the people with whom he conversed, than this, that they wanted the fear of GOD; " Because I thought the fear of GOD was not in this place." (Gen. 20: 11.) The sense of the greatness, and majesty, and power, and justice, and all-seeing presence and command of Almighty GOD, lays a greater engagement upon a heart fearing God to deal justly, than all the terrors of death itself.
3. Sincerity, uprightness, integrity, and honesty, are certainly true and real wisdom. Let any man observe it while he will: a hypocrite, or dissembler, or double-hearted man, though he may shuffle for a while, yet at the long run he is discovered and disappointed; when a plain, sincere, honest man holds it out to the last; so that the proverb is most true, " Honesty is the best policy." Now the great privilege of the fear of God is, that it makes the heart sincere and upright, and that will certainly make the words and actions so: for he is under the sense of the inspection of that GOD, who searches the heart; and therefore he does not lie, nor dissemble, nor flatter, not prevaricate; because he knows that the pure, all-seeing, righteous GOD, who loves truth and integrity, and hates lying and dissimulation, sees and observes him, and knows his thoughts, words, and actions. It is true, that vainglory, and ostentation, and design, may at many times render the outward actions specious and fair, when the heart runs quite another way, and would frame the actions accordingly, if those ends and designs were not in the way; but the fear of GOD begins with the heart, and purifies and rectifies it; and from the heart thus rectified, grows a con_ fortuity in the life, the words, and the actions.
4. The great occasion and reasons of the folly of mankind are, (1.) The unruliness of the sensual appetites: hence grow intemperance and excess in eating and drinking, and unlawful and exorbitant lusts; and these exhaust the estate, consume the health, debase the mind, and render men unfit for business; (2.) The exorbitancy and irregularity of the passions;-as excessive love of things that are either not lovely, or not deserving of so much love; excess of anger, which degenerates into malice and revenge; excess of joy in trivial, inconsiderable matters; excess of fear, where there is either no cause for fear, or not cause for so much fear: and these exorbitancies of passions betray the succors of reason, break out into vain, imprudent actions, and fill the world with much of that folly and disorder which are every where observable. (s.) Pride, vain-glory, ambition of honor and power, envy, covetousness, and the like, are so many sicknesses, and cankers, and rotten ulcers in the mind: as they raise most of those storms and tempests that are abroad in the world, so they disease and disorder the mind wherein they are, make men's lives a torment to themselves, put them upon foolish and frantic actions, and render them perfect madmen, and without understanding; and their folly is so much the more incurable, because, like some kind of frantic men, they think themselves wise men, and applaud themselves. Now, as we are truly told that the first degree and step of wisdom is to put off folly; *, so it is the method of the fear of GOD, the beginning of all true wisdom, to disburthen a man of these foundations of folly: it gives a law to the sensitive appetite, brings it into subjection, and keeps it within the bounds of reason, and of those directions which the wise GOD has prescribed: it keeps it under discipline and rule: it directs the passions to their proper objects, and keeps them within their due measures, such as become a man who lives in. the sight and observation of the GOD of glory, majesty, and holiness: it cures those diseases of the mind by this great preservative and cathartic, the feat of God. If pride or vain-glory begin to bud in the soul, and he considers that the GOD whom he fears resists the proud; this fear puts a man in remembrance of the glorious majesty of the most glorious GOD; for what is a poor worm, that he should be proud and vain-glorious in the presence of that mighty GOD? If ambition and covetousness begin to appear, this fear of GOD presently reminds a man, that the mighty GOD has prohibited them; that he has presented unto us things of greater moment for our desires than worldly wealth or honor; that we are all of his household, and must content ourselves with that portion which he allots to us, without pressing beyond the measure of sobriety, or dependence upon or submission unto him. If revenge stir_ in our hearts, this fear of God checks it, by telling a man that he usurps GOD’s prerogative, who has reserved vengeance to himself as part of his own sovereignty. If envy begin in our hearts, this fear of GOD crushes it, by reminding us that the mighty GOD prohibits it, and that He is the Sovereign Lox D and dispenser of all things; if he has given me little, I ought to be contented; if he has given another more, yet why should my eye be evil, because his eye is good? Thus the fear of the LORD walks through the soul, and pulls up those roots of folly that infect, disorder, and befool it.
5. Another great cause of folly in the world, is inadvertence, inconsiderateness, precipitancy, and over-hastiness in speeches and actions. If men had the patience many times to pause but so long in actions and speeches, as might serve to repeat the Creed or LORD'S Prayer, many follies would be avoided that do much mischief, both to the parties themselves, and others: and therefore, inadvertence and precipitancy in things of great moment, and which require much deliberation, must necessarily be very, great folly, because the consequence of miscarriage in them is of greater moment. Now the fear of the LORD of heaven and earth, being actually present upon the soul, is the greatest motive in the world to consideration and attention, touching things to be done and said. When a man is to do any thing, or to speak, in the presence of aa great earthly Prince, the very awe of that Prince will give him much consideration touching what he says or cloth, especially to see that it be conformable to those laws and edicts which this Prince has made. Now the great GOD of heaven and earth has, in his Holy Word, given us laws and rules touching our words and actions; and what we are to say and do is to be said and done in no less a presence, than the presence of the ever-glorious GOD, who strictly eyes and observes every man in the world, with the very same advertence as if there were nothing else for him to observe: and certainly there cannot be imagined a greater engagement to advertence, and attention, and consideration than this.
And therefore, if the action or speech be of any moment, a man who fears GOD will consider, (1.) Is this lawful to be done or not? If it be not, how should I do this great evil, and sin against GOD? (2.) But if it be lawful, yet is it fit? is it convenient? is it seasonable? If not, then I will not do it; for it becomes not that presence before which I live. (3.) Again, if the thing be lawful and fit, yet I will consider how it is to be done; what are the circumstances most suitable to the honor of that great GOD before whom I stand. And this advertence and consideration do not only qualify my actions and words with wisdom in contemplation of the duty I owe to GOD, but afford an excellent opportunity, at very many times, by giving pause and deliberation, to discover many human ingredients of wisdom requisite to the choice of actions and words, and the manner of doing them: so that besides the advantage of consideration and advertence, in relation to ALMIGHTY GOD, there is super-added this advantage for opportunity thereby of human prudential considerations, which otherwise, by haste and precipitance in actions or words, would be lost; and it habituates the mind to a temper of caution, and advertence, and consideration, in matters as well of smaller as of greater moment, and so makes a wise, attentive, and considerate man.
6. The fear of GOD is certainly the greatest wisdom, because it renders the mind of a man full of tranquility in all conditions; for he looks up to the great LORD of the heavens and earth, considers what he commands, remembers that he observes and eyes all men, and knows that his Providence governs all things; and this keeps him still even, and without any considerable alteration, whatever his condition is. Is he rich, prosperous, great? Still he continues safe, because he continues humble, watchful, and advertent lest he should be deceived and transported; and he is careful to be the more thankful, and the more watchful, because the command of GOD, and the nature of his condition, require it. Is he poor, neglected, and unsuccessful? Still heremains patient, humble, contented, thankful, and dependant upon the GOD he fears. And surely every one must needs agree, that such a man is a wiser man than he who is ever changed and transported with his condition; who, if he be rich or powerful, is vain, proud, insolent; and if he be poor, low, despised, is dispirited, heartless, discontented, and tortured; and all for want of the fear of ALMIGHTY GOD, which, being once put into the heart, like the tree put by Moses into the waters, cures the disorder and uneasiness of all conditions.
7. But besides all this, there is yet a secret, but a most certain truth, which highly improveth that wisdom which the fear of the LORD bringeth, and that is this, That those who truly fear GOD have a secret guidance from a higher wisdom than what is barely human; namely, from the SPIRIT of Truth, which doth really and truly, but secretly, prevent and direct them. And let no man think that this is apiece of fanaticism. Any man who truly fears ALMIGHTY GOD, relies upon him, and calls upon him for his guidance and direction, has it, as really as the son has the direction of his father; and though the voice be not audible, nor the direction perceptible to sense, yet it is as real as if a man heard the voice saying, " This is the way, walk in it." This secret direction of GOD is principally seen in matters relating to the good of the soul; but it may also be found in the momentous concerns of this life, which a man who fears G o n shall often, if not at all times, find. Besides this direction, a man, fearing GOD, shall find his blessing upon him. It is true, that the portion of a man fearing GOD is not in this life; oftentimes he meets with crosses, afflictions, and troubles in it; his portion is that of a higher and more excellent state; yet has he also a blessing in this life, even in relation to his temporal condition: for either his honest intentions are blessed with success; or if they be not, yet even his disappointments are a blessing; for they make him more humble, less esteeming this present world, and setting his heart upon a better; for it is an everlasting truth, that a all things shall work together for good to them that love and fear GOD;" (Ro-gin. viii. 28;) and therefore certainly such a man is the wisest man.
8. Yet further; it is one of the greatest evidences of wisdom to provide for the future, and to provide those things for the future that are of the greatest importance. Upon this account the Wise Man (Prom. 30: 25) admires the wisdom of the ant, that provides his meat in the summer; and we see the folly of children and prodigals in this, that they have no prospect how they shall subsist hereafter. Now the, wisdom of a man who feareth God discovereth itself in this, that it lays up a safe store for the future, and that in respect of these three kinds of futurities; (l.) For the future part of his life: (2.) For the future evil days (3.) For the future life that is to take place after this short uncertain life.
(1.) In respect of the future time of his life. It is true, our lives in this world are but short at best, and together with that shortness they are very uncertain. But yet the man fearing GOD makes a safe provision for that future portion of life, how short or how long soever it be. By a constant walking in the fear of God he transmits unto the future part of his life a quiet, serene, and fair conscience, and avoids those evil fruits which a sinful life produceth, even in the after time of a man's life. The hurts we receive in youth are many times more painful in age, than when we at first received them. If we sow evil seeds in the time of our youth, it may be that they may he five, ten, or more years before they come up to a full crop, and possibly then we may taste the fruit of these evil ways. All this inconvenience a man fear in GOD prevents, and instead thereof reaps a pleasing and comfortable fruit of his walk in the fear of God, namely, a quiet conscience, and an even, settled, peaceable soul.-But besides this, by this means he keeps his interest in, and peace with ALMIGHTY God, and makes sure of the best friend in the world for the after-time of his life, to whom he is sure to have access at all times, and upon all occasions, with comfort and acceptance; for it is an infallible truth, that God ALMIGHTY never forsakes any that forsake not him first.
(2.) The second futurity is the future evil day, which will most certainly overtake every man; either the day of feeble and decrepit age, or the day of sickness, or the day of death; and against all those the true fear of GOD makes a safe and excellent provision: so that although he may not avoid them, he may have a comfortable passage through them; and in the midst of all these black clouds, the witness of a good conscience, and the evidence of the divine favor, will shine into the soul like a bright sun with comfort. This will be accordial under the faintness of old age, a relief under the pains of sickness, and the cure of the fear of death itself, which to such a soul will be only a passage to a life that will be free from all pains and infirmities, a life of glory and immortality.
(3.) The third futurity is the state after death. Most certain it is that such a state there will be; that it is but of two kinds, a. state of everlasting happiness, or a state of everlasting misery; and that all men in the world belong to one of these two states. And it is most true, that they who fear God, and obey him through JESUS CHRIST, shall be partakers of that everlasting state of blessedness: on the other side, they that reject the fear of God shall, without true repentance, be in a' state of everlasting misery. Now herein the greatest wisdom of a man appears, that he duly provides against this: all other wisdom of men, either to get learning, wealth, honor, power, all the wisdom of statesmen and politicians, in comparison of this wisdom, is vain and trivial. And this is the wisdom which the fear of God teacheth. It provides against the greatest of evils, everlasting misery: And it provides, for an everlasting state of blessedness and happiness, of glory and immortality; a state of that happiness and glory which exceed expression and apprehension; for " eve has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things that GOD has laid up for them that love him."
And now, for the conclusion of this whole matter, let us make a short comparison between the persons that fear not God, and those that fear Him; and then let any man judge who is the fool, and who is the wise man. A man has but a short certain time in this life, which, in comparison of eternity, is less than a moment. The great GOD of heaven assures us, that there is a state of immortality after this life, of never-dying misery, or of endless glory, and tells us, " If you fear me, and obey my easy commands, you shall infallibly attain everlasting life and happiness, and, even in this present life, shall have the influence and presence of my favor, to support, direct, and bless you On the other side, if ye refuse my fear, and persist impenitently in it, your portion shall be everlasting misery." And now everlasting life, and everlasting death, being set before the children of men, there are a sort of men who choose to reject his fear, that they may enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, those pleasures which are fading, which leave behind them a sting, and which make even that very life they enjoy to be a, life only of discomfort and unhappiness. Again, there are a sort of men who consider this great proposal, and choose the fear of ALMIGHTY GOD, and with it eternal life, and obey GOD: and in the practice of this fear they enjoy his favor, and presence, and love; and after this life spent, whether it be long or short, and whether their death be lingering or sudden, are sure, the moment after death, to enjoy an immortal life of glory and happiness.
Judge then, which of these is the truly wise man, and whether this be not a truth beyond dispute: " The fear of God, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil man’s understanding."
For I determined not to know any thing among you, sate
JESUS CHRIST, and Him crucified.
As the understanding is the highest faculty of the reasonable creature; so knowledge is the noblest act of that faculty, without which, it is without its proper end and employ, and the whole man is without a due guidance and direction. And as knowledge is the proper business of that great faculty, so the value of that knowledge is according to the subject about which it is exercised. According to the various values and degrees of the things to be known, there arises a diversity of the value of that knowledge; that which is of a thing more needful, useful, and precious, must needs be a mare noble, useful, and precious knowledge.
Many excellent understandings have been conversant about some truths, which are of no moment, whether known or not; as concerning the precise time of this or that passage in such a profane history, the criticism of this or that Latin word, and the like; which though by accident they may be of use, when relating to some other matter of moment, yet in themselves have little value,. because of little use. Others have spent their thoughts in acquiring knowledge in some special piece of nature; the fabric of the eye; the progression of generation in an egg; the relation and proportion of numbers, weights, and lines,; the generations of metals: and these, as they discover the wisdom of the great Creator, or relate to public use, have great worth in thetas; but in themselves, they are not of such worth, as truths of either a higher, or more useful, or durable nature.
With an eye to this, as once our Savior, in relation of things to be done, pronounced one thing only necessary; (Luke 10: 49;) so the Apostle, among many things to be known, fixeth one thing as necessary, CHRIST Jesus and Him crucified. In his words there are three steps
I know nothing. Not as if all other knowledge were condemned: 1lfos 's learning was not charged upon him as a sin; PAUL'S learning was not condemned. but useful to him. To be knowing in our calling, in the dispositions of persons, in the laws under which we live, in the modest and sober inquiries of nature and arts is not only not condemned, but commended, and tends to the setting forth of the glory of the GOD of wisdom. Even the discretion of the husbandman GOD owns as his '1 For his GOD doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him." (Isa. 28: 26:) But we must determine to know nothing in comparison of that other knowledge of CHRIST Jesus. As the Apostle counted what things were gain to be loss for CHRIST, (Phil. 3: 7,) so we are to esteem that knowledge of other things, otherwise excellent, useful, and admirable, to be yet but folly, and vile, in comparison of the knowledge of CHRIST. And this requires
l. A true and right estimate of the value of the knowledge of CHRIST Jesus above other knowledge; and consequently an infinite preference thereof before all other knowledge: for the knowledge of CHRIST excels most knowledge in all the ensuing particulars, but excels all knowledge in some, and those of most concernment.'
(1.) In the certainty of it. Most other knowledges are either such as we take in by our sense and experience and therein, though it is true that the gross part of our knowledge, which is nearest to our sense, has somewhat of certainty in it, yet when we come to collect that knowledge into general conclusions, or to make deductions and determinations from them, then we fail, and hence arise the differences between many Philosophers. The knowledge which we draw from sense is but very narrow, if it is stayed there: for the forms of things, the matter, or substance, which is the subject of nature, are not easily perceptible by sense: we see the color, and the figure, and the variations of that, but we do from thence only make conjectures concerning the forms, substances, and matter. And as to that knowledge which we receive by tradition, whether historical or doctrinal; the former depends upon the credit of the relator, which commonly depends upon another's credit, and so vanisheth into much uncertainty, unless the authors be very authentic and eye-witnesses: and as to matters doctrinal, still that depends upon the opinion of a man, it may be, deduced upon weak convictions, crossed by persons of as great judgment, and so breeds uncertainty and dissatisfaction in the knowledge.-But in the knowledge of CHRIST, we have greater certainty than can be found in any of all these.
First, A constant tradition and reception by millions, before he came, that the Messias was to come; and since he came, that in truth he is come.
Secondly, The apostles, evangelists, and disciples, who were purposely chosen to be witnesses Of CHRIST, his miracles, doctrine, suffering, and resurrection.
Thirdly, The miracles he did, which are witnessed to us by a greater consent of testimony, than any one part of any history of the like antiquity.
Fourthly, The' purity of his doctrine, which was never attained to by the Philosophers, and which none ever could, in the least measure, impeach or blame.
Fifthly, The prophecies, a most undeniable argument; for it is not capable of any fraud or imposture.
Sixthly, The wonderful prevalence which the knowledge of CHRIST had upon the world; and this not only in fact, but confirmed with a prophecy, that it should be so.
Seventhly, The admirable concordance and symmetry, which this mystery of CHRIST makes in the whole method of the proceeding of God in the world, as will be easily observable upon the collation of these things together: the Creation; the Fall; the Law; the state of the Jews; the immortality of the soul; the necessity of a satisfaction for sin; the types and sacrifices; the prophecies; the rejection of the Jews; the calling of the Gentiles; the progress of the Gospel to the newly discovered parts of the world successively as discovered. A due collection being made of all these considerations, it will appear that the doctrine of CHRIST JESUS and him crucified, is that which makes the dispensation of GOD towards the children of men to be all of a piece, one thing in order to another, and CHRIST the Mediator, in whom God has gathered together all things in one, (Eph. 1: 10,) or made it as one system, body, and fabric.
Eighthly. Besides the undeniable prophecies, there bears testimony to this truth the secret and powerful witness of the SPIRIT of GOD, convincing the soul of the truth of CHRIST beyond all the moral persuasions in the world, and beyond the conviction of demonstration, and leading it to believe, to rest upon, and to assert it, even unto the loss of life and all things.
(2.) As the knowledge of CHRIST excels in the certainty, so in the plainness and easiness of the truth. The most excellent subjects of other knowledge have long windings, before a man can come at them; and are of so much difficulty and abstruseness, that as every brain is not fit for the acquiring of them, so much labor is required in the best of judgments, to attain but a competent measure of them: witness the studies of Arithmetic, Geometry, Natural Philosophy, Metaphysics, &c., wherein great labor has been taken to our hands, to make the passages more easy, and yet still they are full of difficulty. But in this knowledge it is otherwise: as it is a knowledge fitted for universal use, the bringing of mankind to GOD, so it is fitted with an universal convenience for that used easy, plain, and familiar.
It pleased God to choose a doctrine of easy acquisition, 1. That no flesh should glory in his sight 2. That the way to salvation, being a common thing propounded to all mankind, might he difficult to none. Believe, and thy sins be forgiven. Believe, and thou shalt be saved.
Believe, and thou shalt be raised up to glory. " This is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the SON, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life:' and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6: 40.)
(3.) As the knowledge of CHRIST excels in the certainty and plainness, so in the sublimity and loftiness of the subject. For the subject of this knowledge is of the highest consideration:-ALMIGHTY GOD; the dispensation of his counsel touching man, in reference to his everlasting condition; the true measure of just and unjust; the pure will of GOD; the SON of GOD, and his miraculous incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; the great covenant between the eternal GOD and fallen man, made, sealed, and confirmed in CHRIST; the means of the discharge and satisfaction of the breach of the law of GOD; and the state of the soul after death in blessedness or misery. These and many such things as these are the subject of that knowledge which is revealed in the knowledge of CHRIST; so that their very matter speaks them to be of a most high nature, such as never fell under the discovery, or even the disquisition, of the wisest Philosophers, and such as the very angels of heaven desire to look into, (1 Pet. 1: 12,) beholding with admiration that manifold wisdom of GOD, which is revealed unto us, poor worms, in CHRIST JESUS.
(4.) As thematters are wonderful, high, and sublime, so they are of singular use. There are many pieces of learning in the world that are conversant about high subjects; as, that part of Natural Philosophy concerning the heaven, and the soul, and the abstruser parts of the Mathematics. But as the knowledge of the subject is scarcely accessible, so, when it is known, there is no more use of it. But here is the privilege of the knowledge of CHRIST JESUS, that as it is of eminence and height, so' it is of use and convenience, and that in the highest measure: as it is a pearl for beauty, so it is for value. This knowledge is of universal use and convenience. In reference to this life: Am I in want, in contempt, in prison, in banishment, in sickness, in death?
This knowledge gives me patience, cheerfulness, and resignation of myself to his will, who has sealed my peace with him, and favor from him, in the great Covenant of his SON and I can live upon this, though I were ready to starve; for I am assured that if it be for my good and the glory of his name; I shall be delivered; if not, I can be content, provided that my jewel, the peace of GOD, and my own conscience, by the blood of CHRIST, be safe. Am I in wealth, honor, power, greatness, esteem in the world?:
This knowledge teacheth me humility, as knowing from whom I received it; fidelity, as knowing to whom I must account for it; watchfulness, as knowing that the honor of my LORD is concerned in my carriage, and that the higher my employment is, the more obnoxious I am to temptation from without, from them that watch for my halting, and from within,- by a deceitful heart. And in all it teacheth me not to over-value it, nor to -value myself the more by it or for it; because the knowledge of CHRIST JESUS presents me with a continual object of a higher value, the prize of the high calling of GOD in CHRIST: it teacheth me to look upon the glory of the world as rust, in comparison of the great GOD.-And as in reference to my temporal condition, this knowledge of CHRIST is of singular use, so it guides me in the management of all relations.
First, to GOD: it presents him unto me full of majesty, yet full of love; which teacheth me reverence, and yet access with boldness, love, and obedience.
Secondly, to, man: it produeeth justice, giving every man his due, for so the knowledge of CHRIST teacheth me; "Do as. ye would be done by;" mercy, to forgive; compassion, to pity; liberality, to relieve; sobriety, in the use of creatures, and yet comfort in the enjoyment of them; a right use of the world;. and yet a contempt of it. It makes. death not terrible, because it is a sure passage to life. Here I find a way to get all my sins pardoned, whereas without this, all the world: cannot contrive a satisfaction for one. I find away to obtain such righteous tress of God in CHRIST. Here I find the means, and the only means, to avoid the terror of the judgment of the great day; everlasting life unto all eternity, with the blessed GOD, and our LORD JESUS CHRIST, and all the blessed Angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect. Thus this knowledge is useful for this life, and that which is to come, and that in the highest degree; which all other knowledge comes short of.
(5.) The knowledge of CHRIST excels in the duration of it. Many subjects of knowledge there are, wherein by -time, or at least by death, our knowledge proves useless, or our labor therein unprofitable. For instance, a study to be very exact in Natural Philosophy, the mixtures of qualities, elements, and a thousand such inquiries Of what use will this be, when the world, with the works thereof, shall be burned up? Or if it should not, what great benefit would this be to a separate-soul, which doubtless shall either know much more therein., without any pains, and so the labor here be lost, or it shall be such a knowledge as will be useless to it? And so, for the studies of policy, methods of war, mechanical experiments, languages, laws, customs, histories- all these, within one minute after death, will be as useless as the knowledge of a tailor or shoe-maker: they are ail dated for the convenience of this life, and with it they vanish. But here is the advantage which this knowledge has; as it serves for this life, so it serves for that to come; the higher measure thereof I attain 'here, the greater measure of glory shall I have hereafter. As the more 'knowledge I have of the mystery of CHRIST here, the greater is my admiration of the wisdom, and goodness, and love of GOD; the greater my joy and complacence, and delight in that sight and sense, and the more is my soul carried out in love, and praise, and obedience unto him;-so, in the life to come, that knowledge shall improve, and consequently the sense of the wisdom, mercy, and love of GOD, and the flame of love, and praise, and delight, and joy in him, shall increase unto all eternity.
2. As the knowledge of CHRIST JESUS and him crucified, thus excels all other knowledge,. and so in comparison thereof all other knowledge is as nothing; so the soul being rightly convinced thereof, sets a higher price upon that knowledge, than upon all other; it prizeth it highly, in itself, and in others; reckons all other knowledge without it but a curious ignorance, and contents itself abundantly in this.
3. Because that which is of most concernment requires my greatest diligence to attain it, I am greedy to spend more time in attaining this; and I will rob other studies of the time which might conduce to the knowledge of them, rather than those studies should consume that time which should be allotted to this. My time is part of that talent, which my Maker has put into my hand, and for which he will at the great day demand an account; and if I have spent that talent in unprofitable employments, or in less profitable than I should, my arrear is so much the greater if I have consumed my time in studying my preferment, honor, or wealth, or in studying how to please myself, which I might have spent in the study of the mystery of CHRIST, I have committed two follies at once:-First, I have lost my talent of time and opportunity, for which I am accountable, as mispent: Secondly, I have lost that advantage which I had in my hand to improve my interest in GOD, and favor from him, and love to him; and though I have done so much, as may perchance preserve the main, yeti have omitted so much as might have increased my stock of grace and glory; my talent might have gained ten, and at most it has gained but two. And surely when death comes, the most comfortable hou1•s, which can return to our memories, will be those we spent in improving the experimental knowledge of CHRIST Jesus, and him crucified.
4. Consequently, where this knowledge and the other knowledge of an inferior rate cross one another, it is the best wisdom to side with this, and to deny the other; to become a fool that one may be wise.
II. Thus much concerning the first consideration; "I determined not to know any thing," viz. nothing in comparison of this knowledge of CHRIST, nothing rather than that; "save CHRIST JESUS." And truly well might the Apostle make all other knowledge give place to this first, for the excellency of it; secondly, for the compass of it; for though it be so excellent, that a small dram of it is sufficient to save a soul, yet it is so large, that when the best knowledge has-gone as far as it can, yet there is still something beyond. One consideration of it, even the love of GOD, has a breadth, and length, and depth, and height, passing knowledge. (Eph. 3: 18, 19.) And yet there are other depths and heights in it than this; so that well might the Apostle conclude, " without controversy great is the mystery of godliness, GOD manifested in the flesh." We shall here consider,
1. The wonderful Wisdom of GOD in the redemption of mankind by CHRIST JESUS; and it is manifested in these particulars among others.
(I.) Though he made man the most eminent of all his visible creatures, for a most eminent manifestation of his power and glory, and did foresee that he would fall; yet he did provide, from eternity, a means whereby he might be restored to the honor and glory-of his creature, and his creature to blessedness and the vision of his Creator.
(2.) He so ordered the means of man's redemption, that a greater glory came even by that redemption, than if man had never fallen, and a greater benefit to mankind. For the latter, it is apparent, that if there had been no Mediator sent, the least sin which any of the sons of men had committed would have been inexorably fatal to them, without any means of pardon: and as ADAM, though in his full liberty, was misled by temptation, so might he have been, or any of his posterity, though he had stood that shock; which now is admirably provided against, by the satisfaction of CHRIST JESUS. And as thus it is better with the children of men, so the glory of God is wonderfully advanced by it: for if man had stood in his innocence, GOD would have had only the glory of his justice in rewarding him; or, if he had fallen, the glory of his justice in punishing him but there would have been no room for that glorious attribute of his mercy in forgiving, without violation to his purity, truth, and justice; that glorious attribute by which he so often proclaimeth himself: "The LORD, the Lo RD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." (Exod. xxxiv. 6.)
(3.) He so wonderfully ordered the redemption of man, that all his attributes were preserved inviolable:-his truth; "the day thou eatest thou -,halt die: “ his justice, yet his mercy; his love to his creature, yet his hatred to sin: his Son shall die to satisfy his truth and justice; yet the sinner shall live, to satisfy his mercy: the sin shall be punished, to justify his purity; yet his creature shall be saved, to manifest his goodness. And thus his wisdom over-ruled sin, the worst of evils, to the improvement of his glory, and the good of his creature.
(4.) His wisdom is manifested'in this, that, by the redemption of man, all the ways of his administration, before the coming Of CHRIST, do now appear to be excellently ordered to the redemption of man, and to the making it more effectual. The giving a severe and yet a most just law, shows us the wretchedness of our condition our inability to Fulfill what was just in God to require, shows us the necessity of a SAVIOR, drives us to him, makes this city of refuge grateful and acceptable, and makes us set a value upon that mercy, which so opportunely provided a sacrifice for us in the blood of CHRIST, and a righteousness for us in the merits of CHRIST, and a Mediator for us in the intercession of CHRIST. And by this means, also, all those sacrifices, and ceremonies, and observations, enjoined in the Levitical Law, which carried not in themselves a clear reason of their institution, are now: rendered significant.
(5.) The wisdom of God is magnified in this, in Fulfilling the prophecies respecting the sending of the Messiah, to make satisfaction for the sins of mankind, against all the oppositions and contingencies which, without an over-ruling guidance, might have disappointed it. And this is done in such perfection, that not one circumstance of time, place, person, or concomitants, have failed in it: and so all bear witness to the infinite truth, power, and wisdom of God in bringing about his counsels in their perfection, touching this great business of the redemption of man, which was the very end why he was created and placed upon the earth; and in managing the craft and malice of Satan, to bring about that greatest blessing, besides, and above, and against the intention of the instrument.
(6.) The unsearchable wisdom of God is manifested in his providing such a Mediator as was fit for so great a work. Had all the world consulted that GOD must suffer, it had been impossible; and had all the world contrived that any man, or all the men in the world, should have been a satisfactory sacrifice for any one sin, it had been deficient. Here is then the wonderful counsel of the most high GOD: God and man shall be conjoined in one person; that as man he might become a sacrifice for sin, and that as GOD he might give a value to the sacrifice. And this is that great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh.
2. Consider we next the wonderful Love of GOD to mankind: (1.) In thinking upon poor sinful creatures, to contrive a way for rescuing us from that curse which we had justly deserved. (2.) In thinking of us for our good, when we sought it not, and thought not of it. (3.) In so thinking of us when we were enemies against God, and against his very being. (4.) In thinking of us not only for a pardon, but in order to provide for us a state of glory and blessedness. (5.) In thus thinking of us when that end was not to be obtained, saving his truth and justice, without a miraculous Mediator, consists of the divine and human nature united in one person, in the person of our LORD JESUS CHRIST. Here were love and goodness sufficient to conquer our hearts with admiration and astonishment.
But vet it rests not here. As "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten SON, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," so the only-begotten SON of GOD was not behind in this wonderful love. No sooner (as we may with reverence say) was the counsel of the FATHER propounded for the sending of his Son, but presently the Sox says, " Lo, I come." And now we will consider upon what terms he must come, or else the redemption of mankind must be lost for ever. (1.) He must come and empty himself of his glory, and of his personal majesty, and take our nature; he must go through the infirmities of infancy and childhood. (2.) And not only must he undergo this abasement, but he must undergo the condition of a low birth, be born of a poor virgin in a stable, and laid in a manger, under the reputation of a Carpenter's son. (3.) And not only thus, but as soon as he is born, he must use the care of his mother to escape away for his life to Egypt. (4.) And when grown up, he must undergo the form of a servant, and become a poor Carpenter, to work for his living, without any patrimony, or so much as a house to cover him. (5.) He must come abroad into the world, to exercise the ministry, still poor, despised of his own countrymen, and of those that were of reputation for learning and piety, scandalized under the name of an impostor, a wine-bibber, a friend to publicans and sinners, a worker by the Devil, mad, and possessed with a Devil. These and the like were his entertainments in the world; and, which is more, he was often put to escape for his life: in fine, what the Prophet predicted concerning him was Fulfillled to the uttermost: "He was despised, and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." (Isa. liii. 3.) And all this befell the eternal Sox of God under the veil of our flesh: and all this was voluntarily undertaken, and cheerfully undergone, even for the sake of his enemies, and of those very people from whom he received these indignities.
III. But all these were but like small conflicts preparatory to the main battle. We therefore come to the third consideration: CHRIST JESUS, and Him Crucified. As CHRIST JESUS is the most worthy subject of all knowledge, so CHRIST JESUS under this consideration, as Crucified, is that which is fullest of wonder, admiration, and love: and therefore let us now take a survey of CHRIST JESUS Crucified. As that is the highest manifestation of his love, so it is the life of the text; CHRIST above all other knowledge, and CHRIST Crucified above all other knowledge of CHRIST.
The knowledge of CHRIST Crucified will appear to be the most excellent, if we consider these particulars (I.) Who it was that suffered: (II.) What he suffered (III.) From whom: (IV.) How he suffered: (V.) For whom he suffered: (VI.) Why, and upon what motive (VII.) For what end he suffered: (VIII.) What are the fruits and benefits that accrue by that suffering. All these considerations are included in this one subject; CHRIST JESUS and Him Crucified.
(I.) Who it was that suffered. It was the eternal Sox of GOD, clothed in our flesh; God and man united in one person; his manhood giving him a capacity of suffering, and his Godhead giving a value to that suffering; and each nature united in one person to make a complete Redeemer; " the Heir of all things; " "the Prince of life; " " the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;" as touching his divine nature, " GOD over all blessed for ever;" and as touching his human nature, " full of grace and truth; " in both, " the beloved SON " of the eternal God, "in whom" he proclaimed himself " well pleased." (Matt. 3: 17.) But could no other person be found, who might suffer for the sins of man, but the SON of GOD? Or if the business of our salvation must be transacted by him alone, could it not be without suffering, and such suffering as this? No. As there was no other name given under heaven, by which we might be saved, and as there was none found besides, in the compass of the whole world, that could expiate for one sin of man, but it must be the arm of the ALMIGHTY that must bring salvation; (Isa.lxiii.5;) so if the blessed SON of GOD will become the Captain of our Salvation, he must be made perfect by suffering. (Heb. 2: 10.) And if he will stand in the stead of man, he must bear the wrath of his FATHER: if he will become sin for man, though he knew no sin, he must become a curse for man. And doubtless this great mystery of the person that suffered, cannot but be a very high and excellent subject of knowledge;-so full of wonder and astonishment, that the Angels gaze into it. This therefore is the first consideration that advanceth the excellency of this knowledge; the person that suffered.
(II.) What he suffered. Though all the course of his life was a continual suffering, and the preamble unto his death; yet this was the completion of all, and the tide and waves of his sufferings did still rise higher and higher, till it arrived at this.-The several steps unto the Cross began from his birth; but the more immediate ones began with the preparation for the Passover.
The Council held by the Chief Priests and Scribes, for the crucifying of our SAVIOR, was two days before the Passover. (Matt. 26: 2; Mark 14: 1:) This was the first step to Mount Calvary: and doubtless it was no small addition to our SAVIOR's passion, that it was hatched in the Council of the Chief Priests and Scribes, the then. external visible church, the husbandman of the vineyard. But this is not all: as the visible church of the Jews is the conclave where this design is formed, SO JUDAS, a member of the visible church of CHRIST, one of the Twelve, is the instrument to effect it: he contracts with them for thirty pieces of silver, to betray his Master unto them. And surely this could not but be a great grief to our SAVIOR, that one of his select Apostles should turn apostate.
Upon the day of eating the Passover, our SAVIOR and his Disciples keep the Passover together in Jerusalem; and there the two memorials of our SAVIOR's passion meet;-that of the Passover instituted by GOD, on the Israelites going out of Egypt; and the bread and wine after supper, instituted by our SAVIOR, to succeed in the place of the former: and each did questionless make a deep impression upon our SAVIOR, in which he anticipated his passion, and in a lively manner represented to him that breaking and pouring out of his blood and soul, which he was suddenly to suffer. And doubtless here began a great measure of our SAVIOR's passion, in the apprehension of that imminent storm which he was speedily to undergo. From the supper they go together to the Mount of Olives, and there he acquaints his Disciples of a speedy and sorrowful parting which they must have; the Shepherd. is to be smitten that night, and the sheep to be scattered. And as he foresaw Judas's treachery, so he foresees PETER'S infirmity; the storm should be so violent, that PETER himself, the most resolute Apostle, shall deny his Master that night, and deny him thrice; and, surely, the foresight of the distraction that should befall his poor Disciples could not but add much to their tender Master's affliction.
And now let us follow our blessed LORD from the Mount of Olives into the Garden, with the love and wonder becoming such an entertainment of our thoughts. The time which he chose for this retirement was the dead time of the night; a season which might the more contribute to the strength of that sadness, which the apprehension of his imminent passion must occasion. The place which he chose was a solitary garden, where nothing might interrupt or divert his sorrow and fear. And to make both the time and place the more opportune for his agony, he leaves the rest of his Disciples, and takes with him only PETER and the two sons of ZEBEDEE. To these he imparts the beginning of his sorrow, that they might be witnesses of it, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; " but yet commands their distance; 11 Tarry ye here, and watch with me: and he went a little farther." "Watch with me-" The confusion of his soul was so great, that the only SON of GOD distrusts his own human ability to bear it; and yet his submission to this terrible conflict was so willing, that he leaves those whom he had appointed to watch with him; "He went a little farther." The three Disciples had doubtless a sympathy with their Master's sorrow; and yet their excess of love and grief did not keep their eyes waking, notwithstanding it was the last request of their sorrowful Master: u the Disciples slept." (Matt. 26: 40.) And thus every circumstance of time, place, and persons, contribute to a sad opportunity for this most terrible conflict. And now the mighty GOD puts his SON to grief; loads him with our sorrows; withdraws and hides from him the light of his countenance; interposes a thick and black cloud between the Divinity and the human nature; darts into his soul the sad and sharp manifestations of his wrath; overwhelms his spirit with one wave after another; sends into him the most exquisite apprehensions of those severe sufferings which he was the next day to undergo; begins to make his soul an offering for sin; and heightens his sorrow, confusion, and astonishment, unto the uttermost. In sum, the mighty GOD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, who knows the way into the soul, and how to fill it with the most black astonishment, and sorrow, was pleased at this time to eclipse the manifestation of his light and love to his only SON; to throw into him as sad and amazing apprehensions of his wrath, as were consistent with the human nature to bear; and to fortify and strengthen his sense of it, and sorrow for and under it, unto the uttermost, that so his grief, and sorrow, and confusion of soul, might be full. And thus the arm of the mighty God was bruising the soul of his only SON. (Isa. liii. 5.) And certainly the extremity of this agony within must needs be very great, if we consider the strange effects it had without: 1. Consider that pathetic description which our SAVIOR himself makes of it, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; "(Matt. 26: 38;) sorrowful, exceeding sorrowful, sorrowful unto death; and the expressions of the Evangelists.
He began to be sorrowful, and very heavy;" (Matt. 26: 37;) " He began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy." (Mark 14: 33.) It was such a sorrow as brought with it amazement and astonishment. 2. Again, consider that strange request to his three Disciples, " Tarry ye and watch with me;" as if he feared that the sorrow would overwhelm him. 3. Again, consider his prayer, and the manner of it; "He fell on his face and prayed;" (Matt. 26: 39;) and what was the thing he prayed for? "FATHER, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; " or, 11 Abba, FAT RE R, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me." (Mark 14: 36.) although this was the very end for which he came into the world, the cup which in former times he reached after, and was straitened till it were Fulfillled; yet such a representation of it is now made to his soul, that although he submits, saying, "Not my will but thine be done," yet his nature shrinks and starts at it: and he engageth Almighty GOD, as much as was possible, to mitigate the severity of that wrath which he was now to grapple with; first, upon the account of his omnipotency; " all things are possible to thee;" secondly, upon the account of his relation; "Abba, FATHER: “-as though he had said, "It is not a stranger that importunes thee; it is thy SON; that SON in whom thou didst proclaim thyself well pleased; that SON whom thou hearest always; it is he that begs of thee, and begs of thee a dispensation from that which he most declines, because he most loves thee,-the terrible, unsupportable hiding of thy face from me." And this was not one single request, but thrice repeated, and that with more earnestness: "And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words;" (Mark 14: 39;) "And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly." (Luke 22: 44.) Certainly, that impression upon his soul, which caused him to deprecate that for which he was born, to deprecate it so often, and so earnestly, must needs be a sorrow and apprehension of a very terrible and exceeding extremity. 4. Such was the weight of his sorrow and confusion of soul, that, exceeding the strength of his human nature, it was ready to dissolve the union between his body and soul; insomuch that, to add farther strength unto him, and capacity to undergo the measure of it, an Angel from heaven is sent, not merely to comfort, but to strengthen him; to add a farther degree of strength to his human nature, to bear the weight of that wrath, which had literally made his soul sorrowful unto death, had it not been strengthened by the ministration of an Angel. (Luke 22: 43.) But this assistance of the Angel, as it did not allay the sorrow of his soul, so neither did it intermit his importunity to be delivered from the thing he felt and feared, but did only support and strengthen him to bear a greater burden of it. And as the measure of his strength was increased, so was the burden which he must undergo; for after this, he prayed again more earnestly the third time. The supply of his strength was succeeded with an addition of sorrow, and the increase of his sorrow was followed with the greater importunity; "he prayed with, strong crying and tears." "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." (Luke 22: 44.) This was his third address to his Father. And here was the highest pitch of our SAVIOR's passion in the Garden. His soul was in an agony, in the greatest concussion, confusion, and extremity of sorrow, fear, anguish, and astonishment, that could be consistent with the purity of his nature, and the inseparable union which it had with the divine; insomuch that the confusion and distraction of his soul, and the struggling and grappling of his soul with it, did make such an impression upon his body, that the like was never seen before or since. The season of the year was cold; so it appears from John 28: 15: " The servants and officers had made a fire of coals, for it was cold." And the season of the time was cold; it was, as near as we may guess, about midnight; for it appears that they came with lanterns and torches when they apprehended him; and he was brought to the High-Priest's Hall, a little before cock-crowing, after some time had been spent in his examination. (Matt. 26: 57.) And yet for all this, such is the agony of our SAVIOR'S soul, that in this cold season it puts his body in a sweat, a sweat of blood, great drops of blood, drops of blood falling down to the ground; and certainly it was no light conflict within, that caused such an unheard-of symptom without. Certainly the storm in the soul of CHRIST must be very terrible, that his blood could no longer abide the sense of it, but started out in a sweat of blood, and such a sweat as was scarce consistent with the ordinary constitution of human nature.
And during this time, even from the eating of the Passover until this third address to his FATHER was over, the suffering of our SAVIOR lay principally, if not only, in his soul. Almighty God was wounding his spirit, and making his soul an offering for sin: and though the distinct manner of this bruising of our SAVIOR's soul cannot be apprehended by Its; yet surely thus much we may conclude concerning it (1.) " He was made sin for us, that knew no sin." (2Cor.v.21.) He stood under the imputation of all our sins; for "the LORD laid upon him the iniquity of us all." (Isa. liii. 6.) (2.) And consequently he was under the imputation of all the guilt of those sins, and stood, in relation to GOD, the righteous Judge, under the very same obligation to whatsoever punishment the very persons of the offenders were and this obligation to the punishment could not but work the same effects in our SAVIOR, as it must do in the sinner; (desperation and sin excepted;) to wit, a sad apprehension of the wrath of GOD against him. The purity and justice of GOD, which has nothing that it hates but sin, must pursue sin wherever it finds it: and as, when it finds sin personally in a man, the wrath of GOD will abide there so long as sin abides there; so when it finds the same sin assumed by our Loan, and bound as it were to him, as the wood was to ISAAC, when he was laid upon the altar, the wrath of GOD could not but be incumbent upon him, till that sin that lay upon him were discharged. For as our LORD was pleased to be our representative in bearing our sins, and to stand in our stead, so all these affections of his soul did bear the same conformity, as if acted by us: as he put on the person of the sinner, so he puts on the same sorrow, the same shame, the same fear, the same trembling, under the apprehension of the wrath of his FATHER, that we must have done: and as imputed sin drew with it the obligation to punishment, so it did, by consequence, raise all these storms in the soul of CHRIST, which it would have done in the person of the sinner, sin only excepted. (3.) As he stood under the sin and guilt of our nature, to wit, a necessity of death, and of undergoing the wrath of GOD for that sin whose punishment he had undertaken;-the former, the dissolution of his body and soul by a most accursed death; and the latter the suffering of his soul;-this latter he is now under; God is pleased to inflict upon him all the manifestations of his wrath, and to fling into his soul the sharpest representations of his displeasure that might possibly befall him under that imputed guilt, considering the dignity of his person. And surely this was more terrible to our SAVIOR than all his corporal sufferings were: Under all those, there was not one word, no perturbation at all, but "as a sheep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth: "
But the sense of the displeasure of his FATHER, and the impressions which that makes upon his soul, those he cannot bear without sorrow, even unto death,-without most importunate addresses to be delivered from them, and a most strange concussion and agony upon his soul and body under the sense of them. And the actual manifestation of the wrath of GOD upon his SON consisted in these two things principally:-first, in filling his soul with strange and violent fears and terrors, insomuch that he was in an amazement and consternation of spirit: the Passion-Psalm renders it, "My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels." (Psalm 22: 1. 4.) The GOD of the spirits of all flesh, who knows how to grind and bruise the spirit, did bruise and melt his soul within him with terrors, fears, and sad apprehensions of worse to follow. It consisted, secondly, in a sensible withdrawing, by hasty, and swift degrees, of the light of the presence and favor of GOD. He is sorrowful and troubled, and he goes to his FATHER to desire that it may pass from him, but has no answer: he goes again, but yet no answer: under the pressure and extremity, he goes again the third time with more earnestness and agony, with a sweat of blood; yet it cannot be; and this was a terrible condition, that the light of the countenance of the FATHER is removed from his Son,-his only Son, in whom he was well. pleased, his SON whom he heard ahvavs. When he comes to the FAT nest, with, the greatest reverence, with the greatest importunity, once, and again, and a third time, filled within with fears, and covered without with blood, and yet no answer; but all light and access with favor intercepted, with nothing but blackness and silence! Certainly this was a terrible cup: yet thus it was with our SAVIOR; the light of the favor of GOD, like the sun in an eclipse, from the very institution of the Sacrament, began to be covered one degree after another; and in the third address to the FATHER in the garden, it was even quite gone. But at that great hour, when our SAVIOR cried, " My GOD, my God, why hast thou forsaken me! "-then both lights, that greater light of the favor of GOD to his only Son, together with the light of the sun, seemed to be under a total eclipse; and this was that which bruised the soul of our. SAVIOR, and made it an offering for sin; and this it was which wrung drops of blood from our SAVIOR'S body, before the thorns, or whips, or the nails, or the spear, had torn his veins.
And now after this third application for deliverance from this terrible cup of the wrath of GOD, he returns to his miserable comforters, the three Disciples; and he finds them for the third time asleep. These very three were once the witnesses of a glorious transfiguration of our SAVIOR on the mount, and in an ecstasy of joy and fear fell on their faces. Now they are to be witnesses of a sad transfiguration-of their LORD, under an agony and sweat of blood; and under an ecstasy of sorrow they are not able to watch with their LORD one hour. Our SAVIOR calls them; but while they were scarce awakened, they are roused by a louder alarm: " While he yet spake, lo, JUDAS, one of the Twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves from the chief priests, with lanterns and torches." (Matt. 26: 47.) And though this was little in comparison of the storm that was in our SAVIOR'S Soul yet such an appearance at such a time of the night, and to a person under such a sad. condition, could not but be terrible to flesh and blood; especially, if we consider the circumstances that attended it. 1. An Apostle, one of the Twelve, he it is that conducts this guard; one that had been witness of all his miracles, heard all his sermons, and was acquainted with all his retirements; lie, whose feet his Master with love and tenderness had washed, who within a few hours before had supped with him, at that supper of solemnity and love, the Passover; this is he who is at the head of this crew. Certainly this had it in an aggravation of sorrow to our blessed SAVIOR. 2. The manner of it: he betrays him with a kiss; an emblem of homage and love is made use of to be the signal of scorn, as well as villany. 3. The carriage of his Disciples, full of rashness, and yet of cowardice:-it was rash; they strike a servant of the High Priest, and cut off his ear; which, had not the meekness and mercy of our SAVIOR prevented, might have added a blemish to the innocence of his suffering; he rebukes the rashness of his disciples, and cures the wound of his enemy: again, it was cowardly; " Then all the disciples forsook him and fled;" (A7att. 26: 50;) and PETER himself, who just before had professed his love to his Master, follows, but afar off, in the- posture and profession of a stranger and a spectator. So soon was the love and honor of a Master, deserved by so much love, and purity, and miracles, lost in the souls of the very Disciples!
After this, he is brought to the High Priest's, the solemn assembly of the then visible church of the Jews, in the persons of the greatest reverence and esteem among them, the Chief Priests, Scribes, and Elders; before them accused, and convicted of those crimes that might render him odious to Jews, Romans, and all good men; by them pronounced worthy of death; and after this, exposed-to the basest usage of the basest of their retinue: the servants spit on him, buffet him, and expose him to scorn, saying, " Prophesy unto us, thou CHRIST, who is he that smote thee? "injuries less tolerable than death to an ingenuous nature. And add to all the rest, PETER, instead of reproving the insolence of the objects, and bearing a part with his Master in his injuries, thrice denied him, and that with an oath and cursing: so far was he from owning his Master in his adversity, that he denied that he knew him; and this in the very presence of our SAVIOR: " And the LORD turned and looked upon PETER." (Luke 22: 61.) Certainly that look, as it carried a secret message of reprehension, so also of much sorrow in our Loan; as if he should have said, a Ah, PETER, canst thou see thy SA VIOV It so used, and wilt thou not own me? Or if thou wilt not, yet must thou needs deny me, deny me thrice, deny me with oaths, and with execrations? The unkindness of a disciple, and such a disciple, who has been privy to my glory in my transfiguration, and to my agony in the Garden, cuts the deeper than the scorns and derisions of these objects. But this is not all; this apostasy of thine, and these execrations, will he upon me anon, and add to that unsupportable burden that I am under; the thorns, and the whips, and the nails, from.which I must suffer, will be the more envenomed by these sins of thine; and thou castest more gall into that bitter cup, of which I am drinking, than all the malice of mine enemies could do. Though thou goest out, and weepest bitterly, yet these sins of thine would stick unto thy soul to eternity, if I should not bear them for thee; they cost thee some tears, but they must cost me my blood."
The next morning the Chief Priests and Elders held a second consultation, as soon as it was day. Their malice was so solicitous, that they rise before the morning-sun and after they had again examined him, and in that Council charged him with blasphemy, the Council and the whole multitude lead him bound to PILATE, and there accuse him; and, to make their accusation the more gracious, charge him with sedition against the Romans but though he had no other advocate but silence and innocence, (for he answered them nothing,) the Judge acquits him; "I find no fault in him;" (Luke 23: 4;) and yet, to shift his hands of the employment, and to gratify an adversary, he sends him to HEROD, and his accusers follow him thither also. The Chief Priests and Scribes vehemently accuse him: HER0D, when he had satisfied hits curiosity in the sight of JESUS, to add scorn, exposeth him to the derision of his rude soldiers, and clothes him in a gorgeous robe, and remands him to PILATE. Thus in triumph he is sent from place to place: first to ANN AS; then to CAIAPHAS; then carried before the Council of the Priests; then sent into the High Priest's Hall; then remanded before the Council; then sent bound to PILATE, and from thence to HEROD, and from him back again to PILATE; and in all those translations from place to place, exposed to new scorns, derisions, and contempts.
At his return to PILATE, he again the second time declares, that neither he nor HEROD found any thing worthy of death in him; and yet, to gratify the Jews, he offers to have Him scourged, whom he pronounceth innocent; yet, to avoid the gross injustice of a sentence of death, offers to release him, to observe their custom; but this could not satisfy them. To preserve their custom, and yet to Fulfill their malice, they choose the reprieve of BARABAS, a murderer, and importune the crucifying of the innocent JESUS; and now the third time, PILATE pronounceth him innocent, (Luke 23: 22,) and yet delivers him over to be crucified. The executioners did it to the uttermost; and, to add pain and scorn to his scourging, put upon him a crown of thorns; and in this disguise and contempt, he brings him forth, and shows him to his prosecutors; " Behold the man;" (John xix. 5;) as if he should have said, "You Jews, that have accused this man, must know that I find no fault in him; yet to satisfy your importunity, I have delivered him over to the severest and vilest punishment, next unto death, scourging and scorn; here he is, see what -a spectacle he is; let this satisfy your envy. But all this will not serve; nothing below the vilest of deaths; can satisfy them; all cry out, " Crucify him: “ and.when the Judge yet professeth that he finds nothing worthy of death, they impose a law of their own; " We have a law; and by our law he ought to die, because, he made himself the SON of GOD." But when this made the Judge more cautious, they engage him, upon his fidelity to CAESAR his master:.` He that maketh himself a King, speaketh against CAESAR."
But all this was not enough, till at length the importunity of the priests and people prevailed; and PI LATE, who had been before warned by the monition of his wife, and had these several times pronounced him innocent, yet against the conviction of his conscience, to satisfy the Jews, gave sentence that it should be as they required, (Luke 23: 24,) and delivered him over to that cursed and servile death of crucifixion. And yet the malice and envy of his persecutors are not satisfied; but, after his judgment, they pursue the execution of it with as great scorn and cruelty as they had before used in obtaining it. His crown of thorns is upon his head; a purple robe upon his body; the blood of his scourging and thorns covers all his visage; a reed is in his right hand; the base and insolent multitude, with spittings, and strokes, and reproaches, abuse him till his cross be ready; and then the purple robe is taken off, and be is conducted to the place of his execution. And, to add torment to his shame, our blessed LORD,-wearied with an agony, and with long watching in the night before, and, from the time of his apprehension, hurried from place to place, and his blood and spirits spent with the scourging, and thorns, and blows, and, which is more than all this, a soul within laden with the weight of sorrow, and with the burden of the wrath of GOD which did drink up his spirits,-is yet fain, in this condition, to bear his burdensome cross towards the place of his execution, till he can carry it no longer, but even faints under it, when SIMON of Cyrene is compelled to bear it to the place.
When he comes to the place of execution, he is stripped naked, (his clothes being afterwards divided by lot among the soldiers, and his naked body stretched upon the cross, to the uttermost extension of it; and, at the uttermost extension which the cruel executioners could make of our SAVIOR'S body, his hands and his feet are nailed to that cross, by great nails driven through those tender parts full of nerves and arteries, and most exquisitely sensible of pain. And in this condition the cross, with our SAVIOR's body, is raised up in the view of all; and that, even in this his execution, the ignominy of his death might have a farther accession of scorn and reproach, he is placed between two thieves, who were crucified with him, with an inscription of derision upon his cross, in all the most universal languages in the world, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; the people and Priests standing by, and, even to a letter, assuming those very gestures and words, which were so many hundreds of years before predicted in the PassionPsalm, " he trusted in GOD; let him deliver him, if he will have him." Yea, one of those very thieves, who was even dying as a malefactor, was yet filled with such a devilish spirit, that he upbraids and derides him.
And now our SAVIOUR is tinder the torments and shame of this cursed execution. But though these sufferings of his body were very grievous, insomuch that it could not but extremely afflict him; yet it is strange to see how little he was transported under them. In all his contumelies, reproaches, and accusations, scarcely a word was answered He answered them nothing to all his abusings, strokes, crown of thorns, or tearing of his body with scourging; but, " as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." (Isa. liii. 7.) In all his rackings upon the cross, and the nailing of his limbs to it, and the anguish which fo: the space of six hours, from the third hour, wherein he was crucified, (11Iark 15: 25,) until the ninth hour, wherein he gave up the ghost, (Matt. 27: 46, 50,) there was not a word of complaint; but he refused those very supplies which were usually given to suppress the violence of the pain,-vinegar and myrrh.
But when we come to the afflictions of his soul, they were of a higher dimension than in the Garden, when no other storm was upon him but what was within him. He falls down upon his face and prays; and again; and a third time; and is amazed, and sorrowful to death; and sweats drops of blood: and, doubtless, while he was under the reproachings, and buffetings, and whippings, and thorns, he was not without a terrible and confused sadness and heaviness within, which though they did not mitigate the torments of his body, yet did infinitely exceed them. The soul is most exquisitely sensible, and it is that which feels the pains inflicted upon the body. Certainly therefore the wound of the spirit itself, the fountain of sense, must needs be exceedingly grievous. And hence it was, that though all the injuries and torments of our SAVIOR could scarcely wring a complaint from him, yet the weight of that wrath that lay upon his soul, now made an offering for sin, did wring from him such bitter and terrible cries, that one might wonder that they should proceed from Him who was one with the FATHER: " My GOD, my GOD, why hast thou forsaken me? " (Matt. 27: 46.) " From the sixth hour to the ninth, darkness was over all the land;" such a darkness as bred an astonishment even in strangers and in other countries. But the darkness of the world, though a suitable dress for the time wherein the SON of God must die, and the Sun of Righteousness be eclipsed, was yet nothing in comparison of that dismal shadow which covered our SAVIOR'S soul during all that time. About the ninth hour, our SAVIOR cried that bitter cry, " My GOD, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? "-manifesting the depth of his sorrow, and the perfect sense he had of it. " Why hast thou forsaken me? " More could not have been suffered, or been said; every word carries in it an accent of horror. " Trrou, that art the great GOD, from whom, and in whom, every thing has its being and comfort; surely if in thy presence is fullness of joy, in thy withdrawings must be fullness of horror and confusion; and yet it is Thou that hast forsaken me. Forsaken: Hadst thou never been with me, as I had not known the blessedness of thy fruition, so I could not have measured the extremity of my loss: the excess of the happiness which I had in thy presence, adds to the excess of my misery in suffering thy absence. Forsaken me: Not withdrawn thyself to a distance, but forsaken me, and forsaken me at such a time as this, when I stand more in need of thy presence than ever; when I am forsaken by my countrymen, my kindred, my disciples; then to be forsaken by thee, when I am under the shame and pains of a cruel and a cursed death, under the scorns and derisions of those that hate me, under the weight and pressure of all the sins of the world, under the strugglings with terrors in my soul, sent from thy mighty hand, under the visible approach of Death, the King of Terrors, under a veil of darkness without, and the seeming triumph of the powers of darkness within, then to be forsaken, and forsaken of thee, whom only I had left to be my support! Forsaken me: It is not a stranger that thou forsakest; it is thy SON, thy only SON, in whom thou didst heretofore proclaim thyself well-pleased; that SON, who, though thou forsakest Him, yet forgets not his duty unto thee, nor dependence upon thee; but still lays hold, on thee: and though thou still shakest me off, yet I must; still call upon thee, with the humble confidence of "My God, My GOD." Why hast thou forsaken me? To be. forsaken, and to be forsaken of GOD, of my GOD, of him that is not only my God, but my FATHER, and that at such a time, and yet, not to know why! "
O blessed SAVIOR, the Prophets who spake by thy own, GOD did tell thee why: and that very Psalm, out of which thou takest this bitter cry, doth tell thee why! Didst thou not choose even that which thou now groanest under, and wast not thou willing to put thy soul in our souls' stead, and to bear the sin of those which are now thy burden Certainly we. may with all humility and reverence conceive, that,.atthe time of this bitter cry, our SAVIOR's soul; was, for the present, overshadowed with so much astonishment, that it did for the present overpower and cover. the distinct sense of the reason of it.
This cry was about the ninth hour, a little before his death and having Fulfilled one prophecy in this cry, contained in the very words, of Psalm 22:, he Fulfills another he says, " I thirst." (John xix. '28.) And presently they give him vinegar to drink. And between this and his death, there intervene These passages: 1. His proclaiming to the world, that the work of our Redemption was. finished. '2. A second cry with a loud voice. _(Matt. 27: 50.) The words of his second. cry are not expressed; only., both Evangelists, MATTHEW and LUKE, testify that it. was a. cry with a loud voice, to evidence to the world that in the very article of his giving up the ghost, the strength of nature was not fully spent. 3. The comfortable, resignation of his soul into the hands of his FATHER;.": FATHER, into thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23: 46.) And although but even now the black. storm was upon his soul, which made him cry out with that loud and bitter cry, yet the cloud is over, and with. comfort he delivers up his soul into the• hands of that GOD, who,. as he thought, but even now, had forsaken him.
It is more than probable,; that that bitter cry was uttered at the very height of all his pains, and when he had proclaimed, "It is finished;" thpugh, they were all wrapped up in a very small time, about the end of the ninth hour, yet now there remained no more but for, him to give up his spirit, which he instantly thereupon did: " He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
Now the things wonderfully observable in the death of our SAVIOR are many.
1. It was a voluntary delivering up of his.spirit. This is that which he said, "No man taketh it from me, but 'I lay it down, I have power to lay it down, and I have power, to take it again, this commandment have I received of my FATHER." And truly this voluntary delivering, up of his soul was, almost as great an evidence of his Divinity, as his resuming it: so that this very delivering; up of his soul convinced the Centurion; "When he saw that he so cried, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this, man, was the Sox of GOD." (Mark 15: 39.) Now that he thus voluntarily gave up his spirit, is evident: (1.): By the strength of nature which was yet upon him in the very article of his death,,": He cried with aloud voice." (2.) Because the thieves, who were crucified at the same time, died not till there was a farther violence used by breaking their legs; but he expired, to prevent the violence of the soldiers, and to Fulfill the type and prophecy, " Not a bone of him shall be broken." (3.) Because the suddenness of his death caused admiration in those who well knew the lingering course of such a death;-in the Centurion; (Mark 15: 39;) and in PILATE; (Mark 15:44;) which might probably be the cause for which the insolent soldier, to secure the assurance of his death, pierced his side with a spear, and thereby Fulfilled another Scripture which he never thought of. (John xix. 57.)
2. The wonderful occurrences which accompanied our SAVIOR'S death were very many and considerable.
(1.) A strange and particular Fulfillment of the prophecies and types which were concerning it, and the individual circumstances which attended' it:.-The time of his death so exactly predicted by DANIEL: The parallel circumstances with the Paschal Lamb; in the nature of him,-a lamb without spot; in the time of his delivery over to death,-at the feast of the Passover, and in the very evening wherein the Passover was to be eaten; and in the manner of his oblation, not a bone to be broken: Again, the manner of his death, by piercing his hands and his feet: The very words used by him: The words used of him: The crucifying of him between malefactors: The whippings, the dividing of his garments, and casting lots upon his vesture: The thirst Of OUP SAVIOR upon the cross, and the giving him and guide unto the place of birth; but at his death the sun in the firmament was masked with darkness, and yielded not his light, while the LORD of Life was passing under the veil of death. Again, another prodigy which accompanied the death of CHRIST was an earthquake, which rent the rocks, and opened the graves, and struck amazement into the Centurion who was watching him. When our SAVIOR was entering into the earth by death, the earth trembled; and so it did when ire was coming out of it by his resurrection.
(3.) Again, the graves were opened, and " the dead bodies of the saints arose." As the touch of the bones of ELIShA caused a kind of resurrection, (2 Kings 13: 21,) so our SAVIOR's body, newly fallen to the earth, did give a kind of particular resurrection to the saints' bodies; in order to testify by his death, that he had healed the deadliness of the grave, and that the satisfaction of sin was accomplished, when death, the wages of sin, was thus conquered.
(4.) Again, " the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." The vail was that which divided the Most Holy Place from the rest of the tabernacle. (Exod. 26: 33.) And in that Most Holy Place were contained the mysterious types, the ark of the covenant, and the mercy-seat; and within this vail the High Priest only entered once a year, when he made an atonement for the people, and for the tabernacle. At our Savior's death, this vail was rent from the top to the bottom; and it imported divers great mysteries
First, That now our great High Priest was entering into the Most Holy Place, with his own blood, having thereby made atonement for us. (Heb. 9: 12.)
Secondly, That the means, whereby he entered into the Most Holy Place was by the rending of his humanity, or of his soul from his body, typified by the rending of that wail; and therefore his flesh, that is, his whole human nature, was the vail: " Consecrated through the vail, that is, his flesh. (Heb. 10: 20.)
(2.) A strange and miraculous concussion of nature, giving testimony to the wonderful dissolution of our SAVIOR'S body and soul. There was darkness from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. It is observable, that in the night wherein he was born, by a miraculous light, the night became as day; (Luke 2: 9;) but at his death, a miraculous darkness turned the day into night for three hours. (Matt. 27: 45.) At his birth, a new star was the lamp. Thirdly, That now by the death of CHRIST all those dark mysteries veiled up formerly in the Most Holy Place, the ark of, the: covenant, and the mercy-seat, are rendered open. CHRIST is the Mediator of the covenant, and the seat of mercy and acceptation unto all believers, founded and seated upon him: and thereby that life and immortalitywhich were wrapt up in the mysteries of the Old Covenant, but which yet those mysteries veiled, are now brought to light through the Gospel, (2 Tim. 1: 10,) and the vail is rent in twain.
Fourthly, That now the use of the Ceremonial Law is at an end: The greatest and most sacred mystery of the tabernacle, and indeed of the whole ceremonial law, was this which was within the vail, the Most Holy Place, wherein were the most holy and reverend mysteries, the ark and the mercy-seat; but now the vail is rent, the use abolished, the body of CHRIST, typified by the temple, separated, and so the use-. of the other temple, tabernacle, and the holy places, vessels, and instruments thereof, ceased.
Fifthly, That now the kingdom of heaven, the Most Holy Place, is open' unto all believers. CHRIST our High Priest is entered in with his own blood, and has not closed the vail after him, but rent it in sunder, and made and left a passage for all believers to follow him, with our prayers and access to the glorious GOD, and hereafter in our persons: " Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of JESUS, by a new and living way, which he has: consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to: say, his flesh; let us draw near with a true heart." (Ifeb. 10: 19, 20, 22.)
And now that we have gone with our LORD unto his Death, we shall follow him to his Grave. JOSEPH of Arimathea, has an honorable mention by all four Evangelists; " a rich man," and "JESUS's disciple;" (Matt. 27:57;) " an honorable counsellor, who waited for the Kingdom of GOD s;" (Mark xv;43;) "a good man, and a just, who had not consented to the counsel of the Jews, and waited for the Kingdom of GOD;" (Luke 23: 50;) "a disciple of CHRIST, but secretly, for fear of the Jews;" (John xix.38.)
This man manifested his faith and love, to his Master, when he was in the lowest condition went to: PILATE boldly, and begged his Savior's body; wrapped it, in a clean linen cloth; laid it in a tomb provided for himself, hewed out of a rock; and rolled a great stone upon the door of the sepulchre. And as by his death with the malefactors, so by his burial in the rich man's sepulchre, he Fulfilled both parts of the prophecy: " He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death." (Isa.liii. 9.) The Chief Priests continued their malice and jealousy, even against the dead body of our SAVIOR; and, to secure themselves against the suspicion of his resurrection on the third day, they take order for making the sepulchre sure, till the third day was past; they seal the stone, and, set a watch. (11fatt. 27: 60.) And it is very observable, how the almighty counsel of GOD made use of the very malice and jealousy of these people, for the confirming of his own truth, of CHRIST's resurrection, and of our faith. Their malicious and curious industry, to prevent the possibility of eL fictitious resurrection, abundantly evince the reality of our SAv ioux's death and his true resurrection. He was laid in the grave on the evening of the day wherein he suffered; a stone was rolled upon the mouth of the grave, such as required considerable strength to remove it, insomuch that the women, who came on the first day of the week to embalm the body, were in a great difficulty how it should be removed, for it was a great stone; (Mark 16: 3;), and this stone was sealed: (iWatt. 27: 60:) and, as if all this were too little, and the bonds of death and the grave were too weak, they added a watch of soldiers to secure the body.
And here we leave for a while our SAVIOR's. body interred with spices in a new sepulchre, wherein never before any lay, hewn out of a rock in the garden. As in the garden, death at first laid hold of the first ADAM, so in the garden the second ADAM undergoes the state of death, and gains the victory over the grave: his body rests in, the grave, and his soul in Paradise; for so he witnesseth of himself, "This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23: 43.)
For at the instant of his dissolution our satisfaction was made; andthework of our redemption, sofar as it depended upon his suffering, was finished: so that had it not been for a proof of the reality of Iii s death, and of the power and reality of his resurrection, and for the Fulfilling of the decree of God, manifested in the Scriptures, he might have re-assumed life the instant after death: for the debt to the justice of GOD was fully satisfied; and his continuance in the grave until the third day, was not by the power of death, which he vanquished in the instant of his dissolution, but a voluntary subjecting of himself unto that state, for the strengthening of our faith, and the Fulfilling of the Scriptures.
And now we come to the consideration of the Resurrection of our LORD; by which he was declared to be the Sox of God with power, and by which the completeness of our redemption by him is abundantly manifested. He chose that time to die, when the passover was slain,-that time wherein ADAM was created,-the sixth day of the week at even. He chose that time for his body to rest in the grave, and for his soul to rest in Paradise, wherein his FATHER rested from all the great work of the Creation the seventh day of the week. And he chose that day to rise again, which his FATHER chose to begin the Creation, the first day of the week; that the same day might bear the inscription of the creation and of the restitution of the world; and that as in that day the LORD God brought light out of darkness, so this light, the light which lighteth every man that comes into the world, should arise from the land of darkness, the grave: " This is the day that the Lo R n has made; let us be glad and rejoice therein." The time of the day wherein our Lo Itn arose, was very early in the morning, as it began to dawn; (Matt. 28: 1;) while it was yet dark, or scarcely full light. (John 20: 1.) And the manner of it was full of astonishment. An Angel from heaven comes down to draw the curtain of our SAVIOR'S grave, and with an earthquake rolls away the stone that covered it; the keepers, who had watchfully observed the command of their commanders, were stricken with astonishment, and became as dead. (Matt. 28: 2--4.) Our LORD, who had power to lay down his life, and power to take it up again, re-assumes his body, which, though it had tasted death, yet bad not seen corruption, and arises, and thereby proclaimeth the completion of our redemption. When our LORD raised up LAZARUS, he came forth from the grave bound hand and foot with grave-clothes. (John 11: 44.) Though he was for the present rescued from death by the power of CHRIST, yet he must still be a subject to it: he is revived, but yet riseth with the bonds of death about him; he must die again. But when our LORD riseth, he shakes off his grave-clothes;-the linen that wrapped his body in one place, and the linen that bound his head in another. Our LORD being risen, dieth no more; death has no power over him.
And thus we have considered, in the history of CHRIST'S passion and resurrection, the first and second general topics; Who it was that suffered; and What it was he suffered. The third consideration follows.
(III.) From whom he suffered all these things; the consideration of which doth highly advance the sufferings of CHRIST.
1. He suffered this from the hands of his own FATHER; it was he who bruised him, put him to grief, and made his soul an offering for sin. (Isa. liii. 49.) It was he who reached out to him this hitter cup: "The cup which my FATHER has given me, shall I not drink? " (John 18: 11.) It was he, who bound that burden so close upon him, which made him sweat great drops of blood in the garden, and who, though thrice importuned for a dispensation from it, yet would not grant it. It was he, who, when the extremity of pain and sorrow lay upon him, to add thereunto, withdrew the sense of his presence from him, which wrung from him that bitter cry, " My GOD, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" The injuries of an enemy are easily borne, but the forsakings of a father are intolerable.
2. The immediate instruments and contrivers of his sufferings were such as had a nearness of relation to him; people of the same nation, and his kinsmen according to the flesh; the seed of ABRAHAM; people of his own religion; who worshipped the same GOD, acknowledged the same Scriptures; the visible Church of''GoD, and chief representatives of that Church, most eminent in place, reputation, and pretence of holiness, the Chief Priests, and Elders, and Scribes; people whom he never had injured in his life; but whom he had obliged with many miraculous cures, heavenly instructions, and proofs of the tenderest and dearest love and compassion. That very Jerusalem, which he wept over, and would have gathered as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, now seeks the destruction of him who came to save its inhabitants; and they, in that vile competition between their REDEEMER and a murderer, chose rather to save a malefactor, and to deliver to death their innocent and merciful SAVIOR. These were they who, beyond the examples even of common humanity, pursued their Kinsman, their Benefactor, their Redeemer, with such bitterness, and malice, and scorn, and cruelty, that as it seemed barbarous to the heathen Judge, so it has out-gone the practice of heathenish tyrants.
(IV.) Let us consider How he suffered all these things; for this doth infinitely advance the excellence and value of his suffering.
1. He suffered innocently: "He had-done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth: yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him. He made him to be sin for us who knew no sin." (Isa. liii. 9; 2 Cor. 5: 21.) The companions of his suffering justify him: " We indeed justly, but this man has done nothing amiss." (Luke 23: 41.) JUDAS who betrayed him, justified him: 111 have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood." (Matt. 27: 4.) His Judge acquits him; and in a signal testimony of his judgment, "He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person." (Matt. 27: 24.) And this innocence of our SAVIOR was not only a negative innocence, an absence of guilt, but a positive innocence: he suffered who had not only done no ill, but who had done nothing but good: he healed their sick, cured their lame, their blind, their deaf, their lepers, cast out their devils, and, which was more than all, showed them the way to eternal life. Well might he have asked, as once he did upon another occasion, "For which of all my good works do ye crucify me?"- Blessed LORD, they crucify thee for all thy good works! If thou hadst been guilty, thou mightest have been sparedinstead of BARABBAS; nay, if thou hadst been only innocent, it is possible thy persecutors might not have been so violent against thee but thou sufferedst for the very good thou didst; it was not only an act of injustice that spared not thy innocence, but an improvement of envy that did malign thy very goodness. "For envy they delivered him."
2. He suffered all patiently: "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." (Isa. liii. 7.) Betrayed by his Disciples, hurried away by them that apprehended him, reproached by the Chief Priests and Elders, forsaken and denied by his followers, stricken, spit upon, and basely injured by the abjects in the High Priest's hall, denied by HEROD, insulted by PILATE, (" Knowest thou not that I have power to condemn thee?") whipped, clothed in scorn with purple, crowned with a crown of thorns, and in that disguise saluted with, "Hail, King of the Jews!" forced to bear his burdensome cross, as the vilest of malefactors, nailed to the cross with most exquisite torment, and then, by one of his companions in death, by the general rabble that were about him, by the Scribes and Elders, reproached as a blasphemer, as an impostor;-yet in the midst of all this, scarcely was a word spoken; and those which he spake savored not of any impatience, or complaint against his persecutors, but were full of mildness, gentleness, sweetness, goodness. While his persecutors are busy in revilings and tormentings, he is as industrious to pray for them; 41 FATHER forgive them; theyknow not what they do." (Luke 22: 34.)
3. He suffered all this willingly and cheerfully, which is yet a higher step. "No man - taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself: “ (John 10: 18.) 111 have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be Fulfillled?" (Luke 12:50.) And this willingness of our LORD'S sufferins appears in these particulars:
(1.) In that when he had power to prevent them, and to rescue himself from his persecutors, yet he used it not. One Angel, armed by commission from GOD, in one night destroyed a vast army of the Assyrians; and upon the desire of our LORD, no less than twelve legions were ready for his guard: but yet this must not be; " How then shall the Scripture be Fulfilled," When the company that were sent to apprehend him, heard those words, " I am he," they went backward and fell to the ground. The same power by which they fell, could have so bound them, as never to have risen again; but our LORD, though he manifested this power, to evidence his Divinity, yet he used it not so far as to hinder his passion: he, as it were, calls back that manifestation of his Deity, lest it might interrupt the service he was about to perform for mankind. "He asked them again, Whom seek ye?"
(2.) In that he corrects and checks all things which might be either an impediment of his passion, or that might, in the least degree, betray an unwillingness to undergo it. Doubtless there was an adequate representation unto him of the dreadfulness of that conflict which he was to undergo with the wrath of GOD; and yet upon all occasions he corrects those apprehensions which caused his human nature to shrink from it. '' FATHER, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I to this hour." (John 12: 27.) "FATHER, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matt.xxvi. J9.) Even while the infirmity of his human nature started at the apprehension of what he was to suffer, and prayed against it, yet the freeness and purity of his obedience carried him on to it, and made him, as it were, un pray what he had before prayed. Though his soul started at the discovery of that dismal vale through which he was about to pass, yet his.love to mankind, and his resolution of obedience to his FATHER's will, carried him on with willingness to suffer that which he was troubled to see.
Again, how doth he check all impediments to his suffering? Foreseeing shame and pain, he arms himself against both with patience against the latter, he endured the cross; with resolution against the former, he despised the shame. (Heb. 12: 9.) Again, when PETER began to play the politician, in advising our LORD to decline his suffering, how severely doth he take him up? "Get thee behind me the cup which my FATHER has given me to drink, shall I not drink it?" Again, when the forward zeal of the Disciple drew his sword, and cut off the ear of a servant of the High Priest, our LORD checks the assailant, and cures the wound; lest any thing should retard the execution of that for which he came into the world.
It is very observable, how Pt LATE was ready to fluctuate upon every occasion, and shifted from place to place, and from point to point, to decline the condemnation of our LORD. When he answered him nothing, he marvelled, and was at a stand upon his silence. (Matt. 27: 14.) When he beard his accusation to be, because he made himself the SON of GOD, he was the more afraid. He had secret checks from his own conscience, and weighty advertisements from his wife, which doubtless did put him into a great perplexity, such as was scarcely conquerable by the importunity of the Jews. And if, in the midst of this hesitation of mind, our SAVIOR, in any one answer, had sent forth that majesty and strength of conviction, which he easily could have done, certainly the Jews must have waited for the coming of another deputy to have been the executioner of this purpose. But our LORD was so far from declining this great work, that he seems purposely to decline that majesty of speech, wherewith he could have confounded his Judge; and either answered him with silence, or with such expressions as might not too much affright him from proceeding. "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, unless it were given thee of Go D." (John xix. 11.) Though he blamed the malice of his accusers, he admits and asserts the authority of his Judge.
(V.) Let us consider for whom he suffered all this.
1. The persons for whom he suffered deserved it not. The expressions of the Scripture are full on this point: " Peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die; but GOD commendeth his love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, CHRIST died for us." (Rom. 5: 7, 8.) The objects upon whom he looked in, his sufferings were "children of wrath;" (Eph. 2: 3;) " aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without GOD in the world." (Eph. 2: 12.) See what monsters the best of us were in our natural condition, when every power of our soul and body was quite corrupted.
2. As it was for those who deserved it not, so it was for creatures who were in no way solicitous for, nor sought after redemption; such as were ignorant of their own misery, and in no way endeavored after mercy. Thus " he was found of them that sought him not;" and surely little seeking could be found in those who were "dead in traspasses and sins."
3. Not only for those who neither deserved, nor sought after deliverance, but his sufferings were for those who were enemies. " When we were enemies, we were reconciled to GOD by the death of his SON." "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled." (Col. 1: 21.) And the enmity was so perfect that it corrupted the best habits of our minds, and turned them into enmity; the very wisdom of the flesh being earthly, sensual, and devilish (James 3: 15:) so that there was not only in our nature an absence of any good that might move GOD to do any thing for us, and an absence of that life that might be solicitous for itself; but there was a positive malignity in our nature against that GOD who should pardon; against that CHRIST who should satisfy; against that SPIRIT who should apply: we were actuated with those vile affections, which looked upon a SAVIOR with no less aversion, than those devils did, who cried out, "Art thou come to torment us before our time?" And yet for these, and such as these, our SAVIOR died nay, some of these who had actually their hands in his blood, found the efficacy of that very blood which they shed, crying not for revenge against them, but for mercy towards them, and healing those who had cruelly spilled it: the efficacy of that blessed prayer of his, "FATHER, forgive them, they know not what they do," within some few months after his death, did first wound their hearts with a sense of their guilt, and then healed them with the infusion of his blood.
(VI.) From the consideration of the former particulars, it will easily appear what was the Motive of this great work. We have seen in the creature nothing but sin and enmity against GOD, and consequently a just obligation to everlasting wrath and misery: so that there we can find nothing that might upon any account of desert draw out such mercy as this. We must seek for the motive in the Author of it; and in him there was no necessity at all to bind him to it: it was his own free will which at first gave man a being, and a blessed being; and when he had sinned against the law of his creation, there was a necessity of justice for his, eternal punishment, but no necessity at all for his restitution. GOD made all things for his glory; not because he stood in need ofthem; for he had in himself an infinite self-sufficiency, which stood not in need of the glory of his creation, nor was capable of an accession by it: and if it had, yet the great GOD could have enjoyed the glory of his justice in the everlasting punishment of unthankful man, and yet had creatures enough, the blessed Angels, to have been the everlasting partakers and admirers of his goodness: and if there had been an absolute necessity of visible intellectual creatures to be the participants of his goodness, and the active instruments of his glory, the same power that created man could have created a new generation of men, who might have supplied the defection of our first parents.
What then is the origin of all his goodness to poor sinful man, to purchase such a worthless creature at such an invaluable price as the blood of the SON of GOD? Nothing but love, free undeserved love; love that loved before it was sought, that loved when it was rejected "The LORD did not set his love upon, nor choose you, because ye were more; but because the LORD loved you: “He loved you, because he loved you. As Almighty God could not define himself by any thing but himself, "I am that I am; " so he can resolve his love into no other motive than his love; he loved you because he loved you: and here is the spring, the fountain, of 'a11 this strange and unheard-of goodness of GOD in CHRIST,-nothing but the free love of GOD: "So GOD loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten SON." (John 3: 16.) "Herein is love, not that we loved GOD, but that GOD loved us, and sent his SON to be a propitiation for our sins: “ (1 John 4: 10.) And that very same love which was in the FATHER to send, was in the SON to come, and to die for us. It was he who loved and washed us with his own blood; washed us, because he loved us. When we lay, like EZEKIEL'S wretched infant, polluted in our blood, when no eye pitied us, then this love of GOD passed by us, and said unto us, Live: yea, " said unto us, when we were in our blood, Live;" and when that life was not to be acquired for us, but by the death of the eternal SON of God, then to purchase that life for us, he sold his own; and to wash us from the pollutions of our blood, he`freely shed his own. This was "the love of CHRIST, which passeth knowledge."
(VII.) Now let us consider the End of this admirable love of CHRIST; and as it looks upwards towards GOD, so it looks downwards towards us; as he was the Mediator between both, so the end of his mediatorship had respect to both. 1. In reference to GOD; the ends of our LORD'S suffering were principally these:
(I.) To restore unto Almighty GOD the active service and glory of his creature. GOD did at the first create man in such a constitution, that he might not only display the glory of his power and wisdom in framing such a creature, as the heavens, the stars, and other creatures below an intellectual nature do; but to be a beholder of himself and his works, to be an observer of his will, and to glorify his Maker in the admiration of his power, wisdom, and goodness, and in the observance of his law and will: and to his own glory he had by an eternal bond annexed his creature's perfection and blessedness. Man rebelled; and therefore as he became unserviceable to the end of his creation, so he lost the blessedness of his condition. CHRIST came, and by his own blood purchased, as unto man his blessedness, so unto GOD the service of his creature. "He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." And this was the chief part of that account which our LORD giveth unto his FATHER, in the prayer he made before his passion: "I have glorified thee on earth, I have finished the work which thou gayest me to do." (John 17: 4.) As if he had said, "Thou hast sent me into the world about a weighty business, the restitution of thy fallen creature; and that therein, as thy creature may partake of thy goodness, so thou mayest reap the glory of thy creature's service. And now I return to thee thy creature healed and restored, that it may be as well a monument as a proclaimer of thy goodness to all eternity."
(2.) To manifest unto men and angels the glory and infinite perfections of all his blessed attributes;-the glory of his wisdom in contriving, and of his power in effecting, such a deliverance for the children of men, by a way that exceeded the disquisition of men and angels; the glory of his mercy, that could not have been possibly so conspicuous to mankind, if man had never fallen. In the creation of man, he manifested the glory of his goodness, which communicated being to him, that so he might communicate his goodness to him; but in the redemption of man, he manifested his mercy in forgiving and healing a rebellious and miserable creature; and the glory of his justice, which would not pardon sin, till he had a satisfaction for the sin, and which would not spare the SON, when he chose to be the surety for the sinner.
2. In reference to man; the ends of our LORD'S suffering were principally these:
(I) To deliver him from guilt, the consequence of sin, and from misery, the fruit of guilt. (II)In whom we haveredemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins." And surely, had. the fruit of CHRIST'S death rested here, it had been a great degree of mercy. If a man under the guilt and horror of some hideous treason, under the severe and inexorable sentence of the law against him, under the imminent infliction of most exquisite torments, should but hear of a pardon and discharge from this, how welcome would it be, though the residue of his life were to be spent in exile? But our LORD's purchase rests not here. He suffered,
(2.) To reconcile GOD unto his creature: so that he doth not only remove the effects of the anger of GOD, which is punishment, and which may be removed, while yet the anger continueth; nor doth it only remove the anger of GOD, and leave a man in a state of indifferency, as it is between persons that never were acquainted one with another; but it produces a state of reconciliation. " That he might reconcile both unto GOD in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." (Eph. 2: 16.) "God was in CHRIST reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." (2 Cor. 5: 19.) And certainly this is a great addition to the former, that GOD in CHRIST should not only pass by our sins, but should no longer look upon us as strangers, but as persons reconciled unto him. If a man were sensible of the unhappy condition of being estranged from God, how highly would he prize a state of reconciliation, though it were in the meanest and lowest relation? "I am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants." " So that I may not be estranged from thee, reconcile me unto thyself, though in the condition of thy meanest servants." But neither doth the happy fruit of our LORD's suffering rest here. It was intended,
(3.) To restore unto us that near and blessed relation of being sons of GOD: he died, "that we might receive the adoption of sons." " Behold, now are we the sons of GOD, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." This was that dear expression of our LORD, after his resurrection ",'Go to my Brethren, and tell them I ascend unto my FATHER and your FATHER, to my GOD and your GOD." (John 20: 17.) He seems to interest them in this blessed relation in a kind of equality with himself; "my Brethren," "my FATHER and your FATHER;" and sweet and comfortable are the consequents of this. Is he my Father? Then I know he can pity me, "as a father pitieth his children;" he can pardon and spare me, " as a father spareth his son that serves him." ' (Mal. 3: 17.) Is he my Father? Then whither should I go but to him for protection in all my dangers, for directions in all my difficulties, for satisfaction in all my doubts, for supply in all my wants? This I can with confidence expect from a poor earthly father, according to the compass of his abilities: "If ye then being evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" Mercy, and compassion, and love, are virtues in a man, in an earthly father, a piece of that image of GOD which at first he imprinted in man; and yet passion and human infirmity, as they have much weakened the habit thereof in us, so they may suspend the exercise thereof to a near relation but in Almighty God these are in their perfection, and there is nothing at all in him that can remit it. Mercy and tenderness are attributes in which he delights; mercy pleases him: it was that great attribute by which he proclaimed his name; (Exod. xxxiv. 6;) and so diffusive is his mercy, that it extends to all; "Ile is good to all, and his tender mercies are overall his works," not only to the just and good, but even to the unkind, "causing his sun to shine upon the evil and the good: “ and surely he who has mercy for an enemy, cannot deny it unto a child. " Can a mother forget her sucking child? Yea, she may forget; yet will I not forget thee, says the LORD." (Isa. xlix. 15.)--He suffered,
4. To restore us to a most sure and everlasting inheritance in heaven. "If a son, then an heir of GOD through CHRIST." (Gal. 4: 7.) And here is the complement of all; not only absolved from the guilt of sin, reconciled to God, and put into the relation of a child of God; but after all this, to be everlastingly fixed in a blessed condition to all eternity: and all this from the condition of a most vile, sinful, lost creature, and by such a price as the blood of CHRIST. More need not, cannot be said.
(VIII.) And by what hash been said, it is easy to see what the Fruits and Effects of all this are. God will not be disappointed in the end of so great a work, and therefore we cannot be disappointed in the fruits of it; and those are either such as are enjoyed in this life, or principally in that which is to come. Those benefits which naturally arise from CHRIST Crucified, and are enjoyed in this life, are these:-
1. Justification and acceptance in the sight of GOD. He looks upon us as those who satisfied his justice when his So N suffered: so that as the LORD imputed our sins to our REDEEMER, so he imputes his righteousness unto us; and as he was well pleased with him, so he was well pleased in him with as many as are received into this covenant.
2. Peace with GOD. This is the natural consequence of the former: a Being justified by faith, we have peace with GOD through our LORD JESUS CHRIST." The only cause of breach between GOD and his creature is sin; and this being quite removed, the enmity between God and his creature is removed, and peace and love are restored between them.
3. Peace, consequently, with ourselves, and our own conscience; and that upon a double ground: (1.) Because our conscience is sprinkled by the blood of CHRIST, which defaceth all guilt: (2.) Because conscience ever sideth with GOD, whose vicegerent she is in the soul, and has the very same aspect, for the most part, which heaven has; and therefore if it be clear above, it is quiet within; and if GOD speaks peace, the conscience doth not speak trouble.
4. Sufficient grace to preserve us from, or support us in, or deliver us out of temptations. We stand more in need of grace, than we do of our bread: because the consequence of the want of the former is of more danger than the latter, by so much as the soul is more valuable than the body. And if our Father is pleased to furnish us with our daily bread, how shall he deny us our daily supplies of his grace? Especially since our interest therein is founded upon the covenant made in the blood
5. A gentle and merciful pardoning, of our failings; even as a father pitieth and pardoneth the infirmities of a child, and, though he doth not dispense with presumptuous offences, yet forgives their many infirmities. And it is a privilege of high concernment to us, that as in our first conversion the blood of CHRIST washeth away a whole life of sins at once, so after our conversion the same fountain stands open; whereunto we may and must resort, to cleanse our daily failings. CHRIST, received by faith in the heart, is a continual sacrifice, which I may present unto the FATHER, for my sins committed after my conversion.
6. A comfortable and sanctified use of all conditions: in prosperity, moderation; in adversity, contentedness; in all, sobriety. For as our LORD has purchased for us grace to use all things aright, so he has obtained for us an inheritance which renders the best the world can give us unworthy to be valued, and the worst it can give us unworthy to be feared, in respect of the blessedness which he has settled upon us.
7. A lively hope; a " hope that maketh not ashamed," even of that glory which my SAVIOR came from heaven to purchase by his blood, and the assurance whereof he has sealed with his blood; " I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am ye maybe also;" (John 14: 2,3;) a hope of a blessed resurrection after death; a hope of that blessed appearance of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST; a hope of that glorious sentence in the presence of men and angels, "Come, ye blessed;" and a hope of everlasting blessedness and glory, in the presence of the great God, to all eternity. And the efficacy of this hope, dipped in the blood of CHRIST, brings us victory
(1) Victory over sin. " Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace." " He that has. this hope purifieth himself, even as he is pure."
(2.) Victory over the world;-in the best it can afford us, its flatteries and favors; for these are too small and inconsiderable, when compared with this hope; they shine like a candle in the sun, and are ineffectual to win over a soul that is fixed upon this hope;-and victory over the worst the world can inflict; for our LO RD has conquered the world in this respect for us; " Be not afraid, I have overcome the world; " (John 16: 33; ) and he has also conquered it in us; " This is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith."
(3.) Victory over death; which now, by means of this blessed hope, is stripped as well of his terror as of his power: Thus, " Thanks be unto GOD, who giveth us the
victory through our LORD JESUS. CHRIST." And now, though the nature of this argument has carried my meditations to a great height; yet, to avoid mistakes, some things I must subjoin.
1. That when I thus aggravate the sufferings of our LORD, yet we must not think his sufferings were the same with those of the damned, either in kind or degree; for this could neither consist with the purity of his nature, or the dignity of his person: but he suffered as much as was consistent with these considerations; and as, considering the dignity of his person, was equivalent to the demerits of all mankind.
2. That his righteousness imputed to us doth not exempt us from having a righteousness inherent in us. This were to disappoint the end of his suffering, which was to redeem us " from our vain conversation," and make us "a peculiar people zealous of good works."
3. That this purchase of salvation by CHRIST for believers, is not to render them idle, or secure, or presumptuous: where there is such a disposition of soul, it is an evident indication that it is not yet truly united unto CHRIST by faith and love: his grace is sufficient to preserve us, and always ready to do it, if we do not wilfully neglect or reject it. although affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither Both trouble spring out of the ground, yet man is born 'unto trouble, as-the sparks fly upward.