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sufferings to be endured, and of the Divine purpose to be effected by them. In the awful scene which took place in the garden of Gethsemane, there appears also to have been suffering of a peculiar and mysterious kind, something above our feeble conceptions—a mental conflict, an agony of soul, greater than we can suppose the mere anticipation of his bodily sufferings to have called forth. Christian martyrs have trod in the steps of their crucified Lord, and have “resisted unto “ blood,” not only with patience, but with joy and triumph. But Christian martyrs have never borne the burthen of expiating sin. The expiation already made for them was their stay and support. They have never !
; poured out their souls an offering for sinP;" nor is it possible they should have a feeling, or form even a conception of that mental effort which such an offering might require. This, probably—(I say probably, because it is a mystery we can never entirely develope)this, probably, constituted the bitterest ingredient in that cup which our Lord voluntarily drank.
His fortitude, therefore, as well as all his other high and excellent qualities, stands above comparison with any
that the rest of mankind can produce. It is con
p Isa. lui. 12.
nected with that inexhaustible benevolence which embraces the whole human race, and with that intenseness of zeal for the Divine glory which would endure every thing, rather than that sin and death should get the victory.
These were the incitements to that constancy, that submission, that meekness, that willing obedience under every trial, which from his first temptation in the wilderness, to his last hour upon the cross, rendered the pattern he hath set before us “perfect and
entire, wanting nothing?."
9 In treating of this mysterious subject I have wished to avoid, rather than attempt to remove, some of the difficulties which surround it. To speak of our Lord as oppressed by a sense of the actual guilt of the whole world then laid upon him, or by the absolute dereliction of the Divine aid then supposed to be withdrawn from him, appears to me hardly warranted by any direct authority of Scripture, or by any just inferences from it, notwithstanding some opinions of this kind entertained by expositors of unquestionable reputation. To me it appears sufficient to suppose, with reference to our Lord's human nature, that his mental perturbation, his intense solicitude in this unparalleled conflict, was heightened beyond all conception by the magnitude, not merely of the sufferings to be endured, but of the tremendous issue that was dependent upon them. Without calling in preternatural considerations to account for this agony or mental struggle, we may conceive that when our Lord presented to his mind the consequences that must result, either, on the one hand, from his enduring these sufferings in conformity to the Divine will, or, on the other, from his swerving, even in the slightest degree, from a free and any teacher of a false religion uniting in his character such qualities as distinguished the willing submission to them; when the result would in effect be either to accomplish the salvation of mankind, or to frustrate its accomplishment;-more acute perception of the accumulated weight, the aggravated burthen of responsibility laid upon him, than we can possibly imagine, might at the instant have pressed upon him, so as almost to overwhelm every faculty of soul or body. In this supposition there is surely enough to account for what is recorded—enough to shew that, inasmuch as our Lord was “ in all things tempt“ed like as we are,” and partook of all the feelings incidental to our nature, he could not in this instance but be conscious that he was placed in a situation in which no other human being ever was or could be placed, and under circumstances so awfully, so tremendously important in their issue, that no fortitude, no magnanimity, no concentration of human strength and resolution, would enable him to contemplate it without an intensity of feeling surpassing any thing that the rest of mankind had ever undergone.
Let us now close the inquiry which has been pursued in this and the two preceding discourses, on our Lord's character as a teacher and a pattern of innocence and good works, with a few general reflections.
The testimony hence derived to the truth of Christianity is decisive and unanswerable. It bids defiance to any adversary who acknowledges the truth of the history itself. We challenge the unbeliever to bring forward a religion of any kind standing upon the authority of such a Founder as this. History will be searched in vain for a record of
meek and lowly Jesus. Where is the impostor to be found who could assume even the semblance of such qualities ? They who trust to feigned virtues would ill bear such trials as those which our Lord endured, or such scrutiny as his character underwent from opponents the most acute and inquisitive. Yet which of them “ convinced him of sin'?" And what was he to gain, if a deceiver ? Poverty, shame, and death.
Will you say, then, that he feigned this for a good purpose? It is a solecism in terms. There is no goodness in falsehood ; no piety in deceit; no virtue in any thing that maketh a lie. The founder of such a religion would stand convicted out of his own mouth, could one tittle of his doctrine be proved untrue. His pleas of good intention would be instantly annihilated by the maxim of his own Apostle, against “doing evil, that good may “ come'." No;-sooner may light have concord with darkness, than Christ with Belial. Will you
confound his character, then, with those of enthusiasts who“ know not what
they say, or whereof they affirm ?” Will you liken him to men of heated imaginations, wrought up to strong persuasions founded on no evidence of truth? We shall have viewed
r John viii. 46.
s Rom. ii. 8.
our subject to little purpose, if such a notion can be for a moment entertained ; if He who
spake as never man spake,” who “did no
sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” and “who went about doing good;" —He, on whom the tongue of slander could fix no one stain of imperfection,-should nevertheless be classed among the tribe of visionaries who have left behind them nothing but monuments of their own folly and imbecility.
Consider, again, how all these distinguishing characteristics of our Saviour corresponded with what the Prophets had foretold of him. “ The Spirit of the Lord shall rest
upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, “ the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of 66 the Lord.” “ Then the eyes of the blind “ shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf “shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame “
man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the “ dumb shall sing'.” “ Unto
“ Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise “ with healing in his wings".
“ He shall “ feed his flock like a shepherd *.”
“ He had “ done no violence, neither was any deceit in “ his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to 1 Isa. xi. 2.
v Isa. xxxv. 5. w Malachi iv, 2.
* Isa. xl. 11.