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meekly offered bis cheeks to their blows, they plucked off the: hair.' The beard was in those times accounted honourable ; and when David's servants were shaven by the command of Hanun,* they were ashamed to be seen. But Jesus was not shaven. With: savage violence they tore of the hair of his beard ; wbile he, like a sheep before the shearers, was damb, and quietly yielded himself to their outrages.
3. ^ His back? they tore with scourges,' as was foretold by the Psalmist. † The plowers plowed upon my back, they made long their furrows.' The Jewish counsel condemned him to death for blasphemy, because he said he was the Son of God. Stoning was the punishment prescribed, by the law of Moses, in such cases. But this death was not sufficiently lingering and tormenting to gratify their malice. To glut their insatiable cruelty, they were therefore willing to own their subjection to the Roman power to be so absolute, that it was not lawful for them to put any man to death, y according to their judicial law; and thus wilfully, though unwittingly, they fulfilled the prophecies. They preferred the punishment which the Romans appropriated to slaves who were guilty of Aagitious crimes, and therefore insisted that he should be crucified. According to the Roman custom, those who were crucified, were previously scourged. Thus, when they had mocked him, and made him their sport, by putting a crown of thorns on his head, and a reed in his hand for a sceptre, in derision of his kingly office, he was stripped and scourged. It was not unfrequent for the sufferers to expire under the severity and torture of scourging. And we may be certain that Jesus experienced no lepity from their merciless bands. The plowers plowed his back. But more and greater tortures were before him. He was engaged to make a full atonement for sin, by his sufferings; and as he had. power over his own life, he would not dismiss his spirit, till he could say, 'It is finished.'
And now, to use the words of Pilate, · Behold the man!'|| Oh! for a realizing impression of this his extreme humiliation and suffering, that we may be duly affected with a sense of his love to sinners, and of the evil of our sins, which rendered it necessary that the surety should thus suffer! Behold the Lamb of God, mocked, blind-folded, spit upon, and scourged! Let us add to all this, the consideration of his praying for his tormentors, T and we have an example of perfect magnanimity.
Shall we, then, refuse to suffer shame for his sake, and be intimidated, by the frowns or contempt of men, from avowing our
* 2 Sam. 8.5. FJohn, xix.5.
+ Psalm cxxix. 3. 9 Like, xxiii. 34.
| Lev. xxiv. 16.
John, xvii. 31.
attachment to him! Ah! Lord, we are, indeed, capable of this baseness and ingratitude. But if thou art pleased to strengthens us with the power of thy Spirit, we will account such disgrace our glory. Then we will not hang down our heads and despond, but will rather rejoice and be exceeding glad, if the world revile us and persecute us, and speak all manner of evil against us, provided it be falsely,* and provided it be for thy sake!
Shall we continue in sin, t after we know what it cost him to expiate our sins ? God forbid ! When Mark Antony addressed the citizens of Rome, to animate them to revenge the death of Cæsar-he enlarged upon Cæsar's character, his great actions, his love to the Roman people, and the evidence he had given of it in the donations and bequests he had appointed them by bis will, the particulars of which he specified. When he had thus engaged their admiration and gratitude, and they discovered emotions of regret and sensibility, that Cæsar, the greatest character in Rome, who bad fought and triumphed for them, and had remembered them in his will, should be slain, Antony threw aside a cloth, and showed them his dead body, covered with wounds and blood. This sight rendered it needless to say more. The whole assembly united as one man, to search out and destroy his murderers. The application is obvious—May our hearts from this hour, be filled with a determined, invariable resentment against sin, the procuring cause of the humiliation and death of our best Friend and benefactor !
MESSIAH SUFFERING AND WOUNDED FOR US.
ISAIAB, liii. 4, 5.
Surely he hath borne our grief and carried our sorrows.—He was wounded for
our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities ; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.
When our Lord was transfigured, Moses and Elijah appeared in glory and conversed with him. Had we been informed of the
. interview only, we should probably have desired to know the subject of their conversation, as we might reasonably suppose it turned upon very interesting and important topics. The scripture makes little provision for the indulgence of our curiosity, but omits nothing that is necessary for our instruction ; and we learn thus much from it, that they discoursed, not upon the trifling things which the world accounts great, such as the rise and fall of empires ; but they spake of the sufferings of Jesus, and of the decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. They spake of his Exodus,* (as the word is,) his departure out of life, the issue and complexion of his engagement for sinners, that is, his crucifixion and death. This is the grand theme of heaven
* Matt. v, 11.
+ Rom. vi. 1.
. and heaven-born souls. We lately considered the cruel insults MESSIAH submitted to from the servants in the high priest's hall and froin the Roman soldiers. The passage I have now read leads our meditations to the foot of the cross. May the Holy Spirit realize the scene to our hearts ! The cross of Christ displays the divine perfections with peculiar glory. Here the name of God is revealed, as a just God, and Saviour. Here the believer contemplates, in one view, the unspeakable evil of sin, and the unsearchable riches of mercy. This gives him the most affecting sense of the misery which he has deserved, while, at the same time, he receives the fullest assurance that there is forgiveness with God, and discovers a sure foundation whereon he may build his hope of eternal life, without fear of disappointment. From the moment the apostle Paul was enlightened to understand this mystery of redeeming love, he accounted his former gain but loss ; his former supposed wisdom po better than folly, and became determined to know nothing, t to depend upon nothing, to glory in nothing, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
A representation of the Redeemer's sufferings, capable of exciting tears and moving the passions, may be made by the powers of oratory; and similar emotions have often been produced by a romance or a tragedy, though the subject is known beforehand to be entirely a fiction. But light in the understanding is necessary to convince and influence the heart. Unless the mind be deeply penetrated with the causes which rendered MESSIAH's death necessary, the most pathetic description of the fact will leave the will and affections unchanged. I hope many of my auditory can assign these causes. You have felt yourselves personally concerned in an event which took place long before your birth ; and if you are asked, Why was Jesus mocked, buffeted, and spit upon ? and why were his enemies permitted to nail him to the cross? You can answer, Surely he hath borne our griefs,
* Luke, ix. 31.
* 1 Cor. q. 2. Gal. vi. 14.
and carried our sorrows' and you can likewise say, by his stripes we are healed.'
The words lead us to consider the cause and the effect. I. The cause of the Redeemer's sufferings implied in the word our.'
He bore the griefs and sorrows which were our desert. Such is the language, the confession, the grateful acknowledgment of all who believe in bis name. They who are delivered by grace from the spirit and power of this evil world, and who live by his death, and likewise they who see they must perish unless saved by him, are authorized to consider him as mindful of them, and making provision for them in the day of his trouble. They who were actually healed by looking at the brazen serpent according to God's appointment, bad a sufficient proof in themselves, that it was erected and placed in view of the camp* on their account. • He bore our griefs.'- It does not follow that sinners must have been crucified, if the Saviour had not been crucified on their behalf. But as this was a painful and terrible punishment, it may teach us, that without his interposition we were justly liable to extremity of misery in the present life. That we who have offended God should enjoy health, peace, or satisfaction for a single hour ; that we do not draw every breath in the most excruciating pain ; that we derive any comfort from creatures ; that we are not a burden and a terror to ourselves, and mutually to each other; that our state while upon earth is, in any respect, better than an image of hell-must wholly be ascribed to him. A sinner, as such, is under the curse of the law; and this curse includes every species of misery that can affect us, either in mind, body, or estate. But he was appointed, from the beginning, to sustain and exhaust the curse for us. And therefore the earth, though so long inbabited by wretches in a state of bold rebellion against their Maker, is filled with the fruits and evidences of his long-suffering, patience, and mercy. Therefore he still affords us rain and fruitful seasons,'t indulges us with a variety of temporal blessings, and gives us power to take comfort in them. This consideration greatly enhances the value of temporal good things to his people. They receive them as from his band, as tokens of his love and pledges of his favour, sanctified to their use by his blood and promise. Cheered by such thoughts as these, his poor people often enjoy their plain fare with a pleasure, of wbich the expensive and dissipated sensualist bạs no conception. And how does it add to the relish of all earthly comforts, to think, while we are using them,
it Numb. xxi. 9.
* Acts, xiv. 17.
There's not a gift his hand bestows,
But cost his heart a groan ! So, likewise, the remembrance of what he bore for them alleviates the pressure of all their sufferings, and affords them a ground whereon they may rejoice, yea, glory in tribulation* also.
But his crucifixion, and the whole of his sufferings from wicked mer, cannot give us a just idea of what he endured for us. Grievous as they were, considered in themselves, they were light if compared with the agonies of his soul. These extorted the blood from his bodyt before the band of man touched him. And when he uttered his most dolorous cry upon the cross, it was not for the anguish of his bodily wounds, but his soul felt, for a season, a separation from the presence and comforts of God. Therefore he said, "Why hast thou forsaken me?' I It is true, his boly nature was not capable of some part of the impenitent sinner's portion. Remorse of conscience, the stings of the neverdying worm, and the horrors and rage of despair, could not touch him, who had no personal sin, and whose love and faith were always perfect. But a sword pierced his soul : and it pleased the Father not only to permit him to be bruised by the cruelty of his enemies, but to bruise him himself.
The ground of all this was laid in his voluntary substitution of himself, from before the foundation of the world, to obey and suffer in behalf of his people. This point will offer more directly from the passage we are next to consider. At present, let us briefly notice the expressions before us.
1. • He was wounded. This word, which signifies pierced or stabbed, refers to his crucifixion. This punishment, being unknown to the Jews till they were brought under the Roman power, they had, therefore, no express name for in their language. Yet it is plainly described by the psalmist, who, speaking, by the spirit of prophecy, in the person of Messiah, says, ' They pierced my hands and my feet.'ll And it was typified under the law of Moses, T by the curse annexed to hanging upon a tree, which was the nearest death to this ; by the paschal lamib, which was toasted ; and by the brazen serpent. It was a fit death for a sinner, painful and ignominious. How circumstantial were the prophecies, how apposite the types, how exactly was all fulfilled, and how wonderful was it that the Jews should be led to depart from their own customs and pnrposes, in order to their accomplishment, though they intended nothing less ! But it was the
* Rom. v. 3. || Psalm, xxii. 16.
+ Luke, xxii. 44. | Matth. xxvii. 46. Isa. liii. 10.
Deut. xxi. 23. Gal. iii. 13. 1 Cor. v. 7. Jolin, iii. 14.