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hands and the feet were fastened, and nailed to the wood. It is no small torment to have the hands bored, especially if we behold the place, it was through the lower part of the hand where the veins and sinews all met together: it is a place that is full of sense, consider withal the bigness of the nails : “ They have digged my hands," to shew the bigness of the spikes : for the original bears it, “ They digged him.” Believe not the painters: “ Our Saviour had four nails: Not one through both feet, as they describe it, but two through his hands, and two through his feet:” and that you may the better comprehend it, you must know that “ toward the lower part of the cross, there went along a ledge or threshold whereto his feet were nailed,” otherwise the flesh would have rent by reason of the nails, if he had hung by the hands alone.
Then comes the lifting up; as the serpent was lift up, so must Christ be lift. As when a man is stretched to the full length, and should be with a jerk put up; it is like a strapado, as it were the unjointing of
and this is that the psalmist speaks of, “ All my bones are out of joint.” Consider withal the time how long it was. St. Mark saith, “ It was the third hour, and they crucified him." In St. John it is the sixth hour, but the ancient and best copies have the third hour, and so hath Nonnus. The ninth hour he gave up the ghost: so that it was six long hours by the clock that our Saviour did hang the cross.
And it was not with him as with other men, in whom extremity of pains disannul sense, and blunt pains, because they have not a perfect apprehension; but Christ was in his perfect sense all the while. All that the Jews could do, could not take away his life from him, till he would himself: and therefore it is said, thats immediately before he gave up the ghost he cried with a loud voice; whereas others are wont at that time to be so weak, that they can scarce be heard to groan: but never was Christ stronger, nor never cried louder than when he gave up the ghost", this of itself made the
a man ;
e Psalm 22. ver. 16.
Chap. 15. ver. 25. h Ibid. ver. 39.
centurion as soon as he heard it conclude, “ certainly this man was the Son of God.” How doth he gather this from his crying? thus, for a man to be in his full strength, and cry out so strongly, and immediately to give up the ghost, this is a great miracle : “ Truly this man was the Son of God." This adds unto the greatness of his torment, that he had his full and perfect sense: that he was six full hours thus on the rack, and the extremity of pain took not away his sense. He was as strong at the last as at the first.
These things seriously weighed, Oh! how do they aggravate the depth of his humiliation? Seriously weigh them: they are miserable and lamentable matters ; yet in these lie our comfort. Through these words is there a passage open for us into the kingdom of heaven: When he had overcome the terrors of death, he opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers : these were now but the outside of his sufferings, which did belong to man for his sins. He suffered not only bodily sufferings, but sufferings in soul, and that he did in a most unknown and incomprehensible manner; but now may some say,
Obj. Did Christ suffer the pains and torments of hell ?
Sol. No, he suffered those things that such an innocent lamb might suffer, but he could not suffer the pains of hell. The reason is, because one thing which makes hell to be hell, is the gnawing worm of an accusing conscience. Now Christ had no such worm.
He had so clear a conscience, as that he could not be stung with any such evil.
Another great torment in hell is desperation, arising from the apprehension of the perpetuity of their torments, which makes them curse and blaspheme God, and carry an inexpressible hatred against him; but Christ could not do so; he could not hate God: God forbid that Christ should be liable to these passions.
But it is certain God the Father made an immediate impression of pains upon his soul; his soul did immediately suffer: look on him in the garden, he was not yet touched nor troubled by men, and yet he fell in a sweat : consider the season of the year; this was then, when they that were within doors were glad to keep close by the fire, he thus did sweat in the garden, when others freezed within; this was much: but to sweat blood, thick blood, clotted, congealed blood, (for so the word will bear it,) not like that in his veins, and yet it came through his garments, and fell to the ground: this is a thing not to be comprehended. Our blessed Saviour encountering with his Father, he falls a trembling, and is overwhelmed, as it were, with the wrath, beseeching God intensively, saying, “ Father if it be possible let this cup pass from me ;" thou mayest give free pardon; which affections in Christ are such a thing as puzzles us all: we must not say Christ did forget for what he came; but he did not remember: these words proceeded from the seat of passion, which while it is disturbed, reason suspends its acts. Christ had passions, though no impurity in them. As take a clear phial full of water from the fountain, and shake it, it may be frothy, yet it will be clean water still. Christ did not forget, only he had the suspension of his faculties for a time. As a man in a sleep thinks not what he is to do in the morning, and yet he is said properly to forget. “Het cried, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He was contented to be forsaken for a time, that thou mightest not be forsaken everlastingly, and this was no faint prayer: if you will read the place in the psalm: “He cried out unto God" and it is said : “ Who' in the days of his flesh when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong cries and tears." He cried to the Almighty, he made God's own heart to pity: he would break", yet his heart is repenting, and rolled together, so that he sent an angel to support and comfort him, those strong cries are expressed with a more forcible word, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me, why art thou so far from helping me, and from
the words of my roaring ?" Consider how it was with Christ before any earthly hand had touched him, when he beseeched God for his life: this shews the wonderful suffering of Christ; and for that point, “ Why hast thou forsaken me?" consider it was not with Christ as with the fathers, they suffered a great deal of punishment and taches, and would not be delivered, yet Christ was more courageous than they all. He had a spirit of fortitude, he was anointed above his fellows, and yet he quivers : “Our fathers cried unto thee, they trusted in thee, and were not consumed; they were delivered: but I am a worm,
and no man.' I can find no shadow of comfort. Lord, why art thou so angry with me? this speech came not from the upper part of the soul, the seat of reason, but from the lower part, the seat of passion : “My God, my God," these were not words of desperation. He held fast to God; “ Why hast thou forsaken me?” these are words of sense: thus you see the price is paid, and what a bitter thing sin is. God will not suffer his justice to be swallowed up by mercy. It must be satisfied; and our Saviour, if he will be a mediator, must make payment to the uttermost farthing: consider what a time this was, when our Saviour suffered: the sun withdraws his beams, the earth shakes and trembles: “ What aileth thee, O thou sun to be darkened, and thou earth to tremble?" was it not to shew his mourning for the death of its maker? The soul of Christ was dark within, and it is fit that all the world should be hung in black for the death of the King of kings. But mark, when he comes to deliver up his life, and to give up the ghost, “ The vail of the temple rent in twain," and that was the ninth hour, which in the Acts is called the “ hour of prayer;" it was at three o'clock in the afternoon. Hence it is said, “ Let the lifting up of my hands be as the evening sacrifice." The priest was killing the Lamb at that time, there was a vail that severed the Holy of holies, it was between the place of oblations, and the Holy of holies, which signifies the kingdom of heaven. As soon as Christ died, the vail rent, and heaven was open, the priest saw that which was before hidden. Our Saviour, saith the apostle, entered through the vail of his flesh unto his Father, and fit it was, that the vail should give place when Christ comes to enter: but what becomes of Christ's soul now? his soul and body were pulled asunder, and through the vail of his flesh, as it were with blood about his ears, he entered the Holy of holies unto God, saying, Lord, here am I in my blood; and here is blood “ that speaks better things than the blood of Abel;” that cries for vengeance, this for blessing and expiation of our sins.