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1. Is the expostulation suited to any person here? Can I, with propriety, say to some who are now present, Has this subject been hitherto nothing to you? Then, surely, you have not heard of it before ; and, therefore, now you do hear of it, you will, you must be affected. If you were to read in the common newspapers, that a benevolent and excellent person had fallen into the hands of murderers, who had put him to death in the most cruel manner, would it not be something to you ? Could you avoid impressions of surprise, indignation, and grief? Surely if this transaction were news to you, it would engross your thoughts. But, alas ! you have rather heard of it too often, till it has become to you as a worn-out tale. I am willing to take it for granted that you allow the fact. You believe that Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate, was condemned by the Jews, and crucified by the Romans. And is it possible this should be nothing to you? Is it too insignificant to engage or deserve your attention ? And yet, perhaps, you have wept at a representation or a narrative which you knew was wholly founded in fiction. How strange! what ! the sorrows of Jesus nothing to you ! when you admit that he suffered for sinners, and will probably admit that you are a sin
No longer, then, boast of your sensibility ; your heart must be a heart of stone. Yet thus it is with too many ; your tempers, your conduct, give evidence that hitherto the death of Jesus has been nothing to you. You would not have acted otherwise, at least you would not have acted worse, if
had never heard of his name. Were his sufferings any thing to you, is it possible, that you would live in the practice of those sins, for which no atonement could suffice but his blood ? Were you duly affected by the thought of his crucifixion, is it possible that you could crucify him afresh, and put him to open shame, by bearing the name of a Christian, and yet living in a course unsuitable to the spirit and precepts of his Gospel ? But if you are indifferent to his grief, is it nothing to you on your own account? What! is it nothing to you whether you are saved or perish ; whether you
; are found at his right or his left hand in the great day of his appearance; or whether he shall then say to you, . Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you : or, ' Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire ?'* There is no medium, no alternative. If you refuse this, there remaineth no other sacrifice for sin. This
amentable indifference to the Redeemer's sorrows, is a full proof of the baseness and wickedness of the human heart ; and it is felt as such, when the Holy Spirit convinces of sin. Natural conscience may excite a painful conviction of the sinfulness of many
* Matth. xxv. 84, 41.
men saw me
actions. But this stupid unbelief of the heart is, if I may so speak, the sin of sins, it is the root and source of every evil, and yet so congenial to our very frame, as we are depraved creatures, that God alone can make the sinner feel it ;* and when he does feel it, the sense of it wounds and grieves hirn more than all his other sins.
II. With respect to the question, if we rightly understand what has been observed from the Scripture-history, in the six preceding sermons, concerning the particulars of his passion ; we may answer, without hesitation, Never was suffering, or sorrow, like that which Messiah endured in the day of the Lord's fierce anger. It is possible that history, which is little more than a detail of the cruelty and wickedness of mankind, may furnish us with instances of many persons who have suffered excruciating torments, and have even been mocked and insulted in their agonies : But,
1. Was there ever a character of his dignity and excellence treated in such a manner ? Job considered his foriner state as a great aggravation of his sufferings. He enlarges upon
the respect which had been shown him in his prosperity. When I went out to the gate, through the city, the young and hid themselves, the aged arose and stood up. When the ear heard me, then it blessed me ; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me.t But afterwards, speaking of fools, of base men, of the vilest of the earth, he adds, Now am I their song, yea, their by-word. They abhor me, and spare not to spit in my face. . They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they come upon me as a wide breaking in of waters.'I But Jesus was the Lord of glory. He whom all the angels of God worshipped, was buffeted and spit upon by the lowest rabble. If a great king was degraded from his throne, and exposed to the derision of slaves, this would be a small thing, compared with the humiliation of him, who, in his own right, was · King of kings, and Lord of lords.'
2. Was there ever so innocent a sufferer ? When Aaron lost bis two sons, he held his peace.J A little before he had been guilty of making the golden calf. The remembrance of this offence composed his mind under his great trial. He saw that he deserved a suill heavier punishment, and was silent. In like manner, David, when his rebellious son Absalom conspired against his life, was patient ; he remembered the adultery and murder he had committed ; and, though he mourned under his afflictions, he durst not complain.|| The malefactor upon the cross submitted to his sentence, because he was a malefactor, saying, ' And we
* John, xvi. 9. ! 2 Sam. xvi. 11.
| Job, xxix. 8.11.
Job, xxx. 8-14.
Lev. X. 3 * Luke, xxii. 41. || Psalm, ciii. 10.
indeed justly."* It is thus with all who know themselves. Under their severest afllictions, they admit the propriety of the prophet's question, Why should a living man complain ?'+ And they acknowledge, ' It is of the Lord's great mercy they are not utterly consumed.'I But Jesus was holy, harmless, and undefiled; he had fulfilled the whole law, and had done nothing amiss ; yet he yielded himself, as a lamb to the slaughter ; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not bis mouth.
3. Did ever any other sufferer experience, in an equal degree, the day of God's fierce anger ? In the greatest of our sufferings, in those which bear the strongest marks of the Lord's displeasure, there is always some mitigation, some mixture of mercy. At the worst, we have still reason to acknowledge, that he hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor according to the full desert of our iniquities.'l! If we are in pain, we do not feel every kind of pain at once, yet we can give no sufficient reason why we should not. If we are exercised with poverty and losses, yet something worth the keeping, and more than we can justly claim, is still left to us; at least our lives are spared, though forfeited by sin. If we are in distress of soul, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, we are not quite out of the reach of hope. Even if sickness, pain, loss, and despair, should all overtake us in the same moment, all is still less than we deserve. Our proper desert is hell, an exclusion from God, and confinement with Satan and his angels, s where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Every thing short of this is a mercy. But Jesus, though he had no sin of his own, bore the sins of many. His sufferings were indeed temporary, limited in their duration, but otherwise extreme. Witness the effects, his heaviness unto death, his consternation, his bloody sweat, his eclipse upon the cross, when deprived of that presence, which was his only, and bis exceeding joy. On these accounts, 'no sorrow was like unto his sorrow !
The unknown sorrows of the Redeemer are a continual source of support and consolation of his believing people. In his sufferings they contemplate bis atonement, his love, and his example, and they are animated by the bright and glorious issue. For be passed from death to life, froin suffering to glory.
1. His Atonement, apprehended by faith, delivers them from guilt and condemnation, gives them peace with God, and access to him, with liberty as children. It Being thus delivered from their heavy burden, and from the power of Satan, and having a way open for receiving supplies of grace and strength according
† Lanı, üi. 39. 1 Rom. v. 1, 2.
| Lam. iii. 22.
& Isa. liii. 7. * 2 Cor. v. 14. Jobn, iv. 29. Gal. ii. 20. ^ John, xii. 26. Rom. viii. 18 Col.iii. 4. | Acts. xx. 24.
to their day, they are prepared to take up their cross, and to follow him.
2. His love, in submitting to such sorrows for their sakes, attaches their bearts to bim. Great is the power of love! It makes hard things easy, and bitter sweet. Some of us can tell, or rather we cannot easily tell, how much we would cheerfully do, or bear, or forbear, for the sake of the person whom we dearly love. But this noblest principle of the soul never can exert itself with its full strength, till it is supremely fixed upon its proper object. The love of Christ has a constraining force indeed !* It is stronger than death. It overcomes the world. And we thus love him, because he first loved us; because he loved us, and gave him, self for us.'t
3. His example. The thought that he suffered for them, arms them with the like mind. They look to him and are enlightened. By his cross they are crucified to the world, and the world to them. They no longer court its favour, nor are afraid of its frown. They know what they must expect, if they will be his servants, by the treatment he met with; and they are content.
He who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself for them, is worthy that they should suffer likewise for him. It is their desire, neither to provoke the opposition of men, nor to dread it. They commit themselves to him, and are sure that he will not expose them to such sufferings as he endured for them. So, likewise, under all the trials and afflictions which they endure more immediately from the hand of the Lord, a lively thought of his sorrows reconciles them to their own. Thus by his stripes they are healed, and are comforted by having fellowship with hin in his sufferings.
4. Lastly, if more were necessary, (and sometimes, through remaining infirmity and surrounding temptation, every consideration is no more than necessary,) they know that their Lord passed through sufferings to glory. And they know (for they have his own gracious promise that if they suffer with him, they shall also reign with him.'I They are sure, that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the joy which will then be revealed; and that when Christ, who is their life, shall appear, they also shall appear with him in glory ;'§ and therefore they are comforted in all their tribulation, and can say, • None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy.||
MESSIAH'S INNOCENCE VINDICATED.
Isalau, liji. 8.
He was taken from prison and from judgment : and who shall declare his gent
eration ? For he was cut off out of the land of the living : for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
Let not plain Christians be stumbled, because there are difficulties in the prophetical parts of Scripture, and because translators and expositors sometimes explain them with some difference as to the sense. Whatever directly relates to our faith, practice, and comfort, may be plainly collected from innumerable passages, in which all the versions, and all sober expositors, are agreed. That there are some differences, will not appear strange, if we consider the antiquity of the Hebrew language, and that the Old Testament is the only book extant, which was written during the time that it was the common language of the people. For this reason we meet with many words which occur but once ; and others, which do not occur frequently, are evidently used in more than one sense. If we suppose that a time should come, when the English language should be no longer spoken, and no more than a single volume in it be preserved, we may well conceive that posterity might differ as to the sense of many expressions, notwithstanding the assitance they might obtain by comparing the English with the French, Dutch, and other languages which were in use at the same period. Such assistance we derive from the Chaldee, Syriac, Greek, and other ancient versions of the Old Testament, sufficient to confirm us in the true sense of the whole, and to throw light upon many passages otherwise dark and dubious; and yet there will remain a number of places, the sense of which the best critics have not been able to fix with certainty. Further, the prophecies are usually expressed in the style of poetry, which, in all languages, is remote from the common forms of speaking. The grand evidence to a humble mind, that the Holy Scripture was originally given by inspiration of God, and that the version of it which, by his good providence, we are favoured with, is authentic, is the effect it has upon the heart and conscience when enlightened by the Holy Spirit. And without