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determined counsel and appointment of God,* who over-rules all the designs of men, and all that to us appears contingent, to the purposes of his own will and glory.
2. He was bruised. If we distinguish wounded from bruised, the latter may be referred to the sorrows of his soul, (for it is expressly said, " It pleased the Lord to bruise him ;') that distress broke his heart, filled him with dismay, caused him to be sore amazed and very heavy, and to say to his disciples, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.'t No words can be more selected and emphatical than those which the evangelists use in describing his consternation in the garden of Gethsemane. How can this bis dejection and terror be accounted for by those who deny that his sufferings and death were a proper atonement of sin; and who suppose, that when he had given to men a perfect rule of life, and commended it to them by his own example, he died merely to confirm the truth of his doctrine, and to encourage his followers to faithfulness under sufferings ? Many of his followers, who were thus witnesses for the truth, and patterns of faithfulness to us, have met death in its most terrible forms with composure, yea, with pleasure, yea, with transports of joy.' But is the disciple above his Lord ? If Christians have triumphed in such circumstances, why did Christ tremble ? Not, surely, because their courage and constancy were greater than his. The causes were entirely different. The martyrs were given up to them who only could kill the body; but Jesus suffered immediately from the hand of God. One stroke of his mighty hand can bruise the spirit of man more sensibly than the united power of all creatures.
Jesus died. They that believe in him are said 'to sleep in him.'t To them death comes disarmed of its sting, wearing a friendly aspest, and bringing a welcome message of dismission from every evil. But the death of Jesus was death indeed, death in all its horrors, the death which sinners had deserved to suffer as transgressors of the law.
3. The chastisement,' or the punishment,' of our peace was upon him ;' that chastisement or punishment on the account of which sinners obtain peace with God. It properly signifies here, a punishment for instruction or example. Punishments are inflicted, either for the correction of au offender, or for the prevention of evil, or for example to others. The two former reasons could not apply to our Lord. He had committed no evil; he was perfect before, and in suffering. But standing in the place of sinners, and engaged to expiate their offences, he was made a public example of the misery and distress which sin demerited
Thess. iv. 14.
* Acts. ii. 23. Vol. III.
Matth. xxvi. 38.
ed for us ;
Thus justice was vindicated in the exercise of mercy; and sinners, believing in his name, are exempted from punishment, for his sake, in a way which affords not the least encouragement or extenuation to sin. And thus our peace is procured.
II. The effect of his sufferings for sins not bis own. 'He bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows;' he was wounded and bruis
• the chastisement of our peace was upon him, that ' by his stripes we may be healed.' The Hebrew word here, and the Greek word the apostle Peter uses in his quotation of this passage, which we render stripes,'* is properly the mark which stripes or wounds leave upon the body, or, as we say, scars. The scars in his hands, feet, and side, and perhaps other marks of his many wounds, remained after his resurrection. And John saw him in vision, before the throne, as a lamb that had been slain. All these expressions and representations, I apprehend, are designed to intimate to us, that though the death of Messiah is an event long since past, yet the effects and benefits are ever new, and to the eye of faith are ever present. How admirable is this expedient, that the wounds of one, yea, of millions, should be healed, by beholding the wounds of another ! Yet this is the language of the Gospel, Look and live. “Look unto me, and be ye saved.' Three great wounds are ours, guilt, sin, and sorrow; but by contemplating his weals or scars with an enlightened eye, and by rightly understanding who was thus wounded, and why all these wounds are healed.
You who live by this medicine speak well of it. Tell to others, as you have opportunity, what a Saviour you have found. It is usual for those who have been relieved in dangerous and complicated diseases, by a skilful physician, to commend him to others who are labouring under the like maladies. We often see public acknowledgments to this purpose. If all the persons who have felt the efficacy of a dying Saviour's wounds apprehended by faith, were to publish their cases, how greatly would his power and grace be displayed ! They are all upon record, and will all be known in the great day of his appearing. Some of them are occasionally published, and may be read in our own tongue. And though they are not all related with equal judgment, por attended with circumstances equally striking ; yet there is a sufficiency, in this way, to leave the world without excuse. Not to mention modern accounts of this kind, (though many might be mentioned which are indisputably true, and superior to the cavils of the gainsayers,) the Confessions of Austin may be appealed to, as a proof that the Gospel is not a system of notions only, but has a mighty power to enlighten the bewildered mind,
* Pet. Ü. 24.
to subdue the obstinate will, to weaken the force of long-confirmed habits of evil, to relieve from distressing tears, and to effect a real, universal, permanent, and beneficial change of sentiment and conduct, such as no similar instance can be found, in the history of mankind, to have been produced by any other principles. But if you are a trne Christian, in the circle of your connexions you will sometimes have a fair opportunity of giving a reason of the hope that is in you. Pray for grace and wisdom to improve such seasons; and if you speak the truth in simplicity and love, you know not but the Lord may give his blessing to your testimony, and honour you as an instrument of good. And to convert one sinner from the error of his way, is an event of greater importance than the deliverance of a whole kingdom from temporal evil.
Yet, remember, if you espouse this cause, a certain consistency of character will be expected from you, without which you had better be silent than speak in its defence, or profess yourself a sharer in the privileges of the Gospel. There are too many persons who treat the great truths we profess as mere opinions, points of speculation which form the Shibboleth of a party: there are others, who think an attachment to them a sure sign of an enthusiastic, deluded imagination : and there are others, again, who misrepresent them as unfavourable to morality, and affording a cloak and encouragement to licentiousness. Beware, lest, by an improper conduct, you lay stumbling-blocks in the way of the blind, strengthen the prejudices of the ignorant, and give weight to the calumpies of the malicious. The people of the world are quick-sighted to the faults of religious professors ; and though they affect to despise their principles, they are tolerable judges wbat that conversation is, which only these principles can produce, and always expect it from those who avow them. They will make allowances for others, and admit human infirmity as a plea for their faults, but they will not extend their candour to you. If your zeal for the truth, and your regular attendance upon the ministers who preach it, are not accompanied with a spirit of humility, integrity, and benevolence; if you are passionate, peevish, discontented, censorious, or proud ; if they observe that you are greedy of gain, penurious, closefisted, or hardhearted ; or even if you comply with their customs and spirit, mingle with them in their amusements, and do not maintain a noble singularity, by avoiding every appearance of evil; they will not only despise you in their hearts, but they will take the occasion of despising and speaking evil of the truth itself on your account. But if you are all of a piece, and are truly solicitous to adorn your profession by walking agreeable to the rules of .
the Gospel, and filling up your relations in life to the glory of God, and the good of your fellow-creatures ; by thus' well-doing, you will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men,'* and in a great measure stop their mouths, if you cannot change their hearts. And though they may affect to rail at you, or to ridicule you, they will be constrained to feel a secret reverence for you in their consciences.
But are there any hearts of stone amongst us, who are still unaffected by the love and sufferings of the Son of God; who are still crucifying bim afresh, and living in sin, though they hear and know what it cost him to make an atonement for sin ? Yet now hear-now look-Behold the Lamb of God! The Lord in mercy open the eyes of your mind. I address you once more. I once more conjure you, by his agony and bloody sweat, by bis passion, cross, and death, to seek to him that your souls may live. Can you be proof against these arguments ? Nay, then, should you live and die thus obstinate, you must perish indeed !
All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way,
and the Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.
COMPARISONS, in the Scripture, are frequently to be understood with great limitation ; perhaps, out of many circumstances, one only is justly applicable to the case. Thus, when our Lord says, • Behold I come as a thief't-common sense will fix the resemblance to a single point, that he will come suddenly, and unexpected. So, when wandering sinncrs are compared to wandering sheep, we have a striking image of the danger of their state, and of their inability to recover themselves. Sheep, wandering without a shepherd, are exposed, a defenceless and easy prey, to wild beasts and enemies, and liable to perish for want of pasture ; for they are not able either to provide for themselves, or to find the way back to the place from whence they strayed, Whatever they suffer, they continue to wander, and if not sought
*1 Pet, ü. 15.
| Rev. xvi. 15.
out, will be lost. Thus far the allusion holds. But sheep, in such
. a situation, are not the subjects of blame. They would be highly blameable, if we could suppose them rational creatures; if they had been under the eye of a careful and provident shepherd, had been capable of knowing him, had wilfully and obstinately renounced his protection and guidance, and voluntarily chosen to plunge themselves into danger, rather than to remain with him any longer. Thus it is with man. His wandering is rebellious. God made him * upright,' but he has sought out to himself many inventions.'* God has appointed for mankind a safe and pleasant path, by walking in which they shall find rest to their souls; but they say, • We will not walk therein.'t They were capable of knowing the consequences of going astray, were repeatedly warned of them, were fenced in by wise and good laws, which they presumptuously broke through. And when they had wandered from him, they were again and again invited to return to him, but they refused. They mocked his messages and his messengers, and preferred the misery they had brought upon themselves, to the happiness of being under his direction and care. Surely he emphatically deserves the name of the Good Shepherd, who freely laid down his life to restore sheep of this character !
My text, therefore, expresses the sentiment of those, and of those only, who are acquainted with the misery of our fallen state, feel their own concern in it, and approve of the method which God has provided for their deliverance and recovery. It contains a confession of their own guilt, and an acknowledgment of his mercy.
I. A confession of guilt and wretchedness. Sin has deprived us both of the knowledge and presence of God. In consequence of this, we wander, every one to his own way. All are under the power of sin, and all equally strangers to the paths of peace and safety. The paths which sinners choose for themselves are diverse from each other, as inclination or circumstances vary; but, however different in appearance, if persisted in, they terminate at last in the same point. They all lead to destruction. We may observe, on this head,
1. It is a sufficient proof of our depravity, that we prefer our own ways to the Lord's ; nor can he inflict a heavier judgment upon us in this life, than to give us up entirely to the way of our own hearts. He made us to be happy ; but he made us for himself, and gave us a capacity, and a vastness of desire, which only he himself can satisfy, the very constitution and frame of our nature render happiness impossible to us, unless in a way of de
* Eccles. vii. 29.
# Jer. vi. 16.