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speak of the desire which he felt to draw back : O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, Matt. xxvi. 39. And in our text, they represent him as reduced to the lowest ebb of resolution : My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Is it possible to be more depressed at the thoughts of death?
(2) But we said, secondly, that no person ought to have met death with so much constancy as Jesus Christ, if he underwent a mere ordinary death.
(i) Jesus Christ died with perfect submission to the will of his heavenly Father, and with the most fervent love to the human race. Now, when a man serves a master whom he honors, when he suffers for the sake of persons whom he loved, he suffered with patience and composure.
(ii) Jesus Christ died with the most complete assurance of the justice of his cause, and of the innocence of his life. When, at the hour of death, conscience is roused as an armed man: when the recollection of a thousand crimes awakes; when a life of unrepented guilt stares the sinner in the face, the most obdurate heart is then stretched on the rack. But when, at a dying hour,
eye can look back to a life of innocence, what consolation does not the retrospect inspire? This was the case with Jesus Christ.' Who ever carried so far charity, holy fervor, the practice of every virtue ? Who ever was inore blameless in conduct, more ardent in devotion, more pure in secret retirement ?
(iii) Jesus Chirst died, thoroughly persuaded of the immortality of the soul. When a man has passed his life in atheism, and is dying in a state of uncertainty: haunted with the apprehension of falling into a state of annihilation : reduced to exclaim with Adam, O my soul, whither art thou
going ? Nature shudders! Our attachment to existence inspires horror at the thought of existing no longer. But when we have a distinct knowledge of what man is; when we are under a complete conviction that he consists of two substances, of spirit, and of matter; when we become thoroughly persuaded, that the destruction of the one does not imply the destruction of the other ; that if the dust return to the earth as it was, the spirit shall return unto God who gave it, Eccl. xii. 7. when we know that the soul is the seat of all perception: that 'the body is merely a medium of intelligence; that the soul, when disengaged from matter, may retain the same ideas, the same sentiments, as when united to the body; that it may be capable of perceiving the sun, the stars, the firmament, death is no longer formidable. This, too, was the case with Jesus Christ. If ever any one enjoyed a persuasion of the immortality of the soul, and of the resurrection, it undoubtedly was this divine Saviour. He it was who had derived all the stores of knowledge from the bosom of the Father, who had brought life and immortality to light, 2 Tim. i. 10.
(iv) Finally, Jesus Christ died in the perfect assurance of that felicity which he was going to take possession of. When the dying person beholds hell opening under his feet, and begins to feel the gnawings of the worm which dieth not, and the torment of the fire that is never to be quenched, Mark ix. 44. it is not astonishing that he should die in terror.
But when he can say, as he looks death in the face, « There is the termination of all my woes, and the reward of all my labors: I am going to restore my soul into the hands of my Creator ; I behold heaven opened to receive it :" What transports of delight must not such a pros
pect impart! Sych, too, was the case with Jesus Christ. If ever any one could have enjoyed a foretaste of the paradise of God; if ever any one could conceive sublime ideas of that glory and blessedness, still it was Jesus Christ. He knew all these things by experience; he knew all the apartments of the kingdom of his Father : from God he had come, and to God he was returning. Nay, there must have been something peculiar in his triumph, transcendantly superior to that of the faithful in general. Because he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; God was about highly to exalt him, and to give him a name that is above every name, Phil. ii. 8, 9. A cloud was going to serve him as a triumphal car, and the church triumphant was preparing to receive their King in these rapturous strains : Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in, Ps. xxiv. 7.
What, then, shall Jesus Christ do? Shall he meet death with joy ? Shall he say with St. Paul, I have a desire to depart? Shall he exclaim with the female celebrated in ecclesiastical bistory, This is the day that crowns are distributed, and I go to receive my share? No, Jesus Christ trembles; he grows pale; his sweat becomes as great drops of blood, Luke xxii. 44. he cries out, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Add to these reflections, the promises of divine assistance, which all the faithful have a right to claim, in the midst of tribulation, and which Jesus Christ must have had a far superior right to plead, had he died a mere ordinary death; but of the consolation flowing from these he seems entirely deprived.
Add, in a particular manner, the example of the
martyrs. They met death with unshaken fortitude: they braved the most cruel torments; their firmness struck their very executioners with astonishment. In Jesus Christ we behold nothing similar to this.
Nay, I will go farther, and say, that even the penirent thief discovers more firmness, in his dying moments, than the Saviour himself. He addresses himself to Jesus Christ, he implores his mercy, and, set at rest by the promises given to him, he expires in tranquillity. Jesus Christ, on the contrary, seems equally to despair of relief from heaven and from the earth.
The opposers of the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, will find it absolutely impossible to resolve these difficulties: the doctrine of the satisfaction is the only key that can unlock this mystery. Innumeruble evils have compassed me about, is the próphetic language of the psalmist; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to lovk up: they are more than the hairs of mine head ; therefore my heart faileth me, Ps. xl. 12. He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him : as Isaiah expresses himself, ch. liii. 5 God spared not his own Son, Rom. viii. 32. he hath made him to be sin for us, 2 Cor. v. 21. being made a curse for us, Gal. iii. 13. to use the language of St. Paul : this is what we undertook to prove : and this is the first idea under which we proposed to represent the dying Saviour of the world.
MATT. xxvii. 45-53.
Now, from the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the land;
unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straight-way one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave
him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the vail of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom ; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened ; and
bodies of saints, which slept, arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
AVING represented the death of Christ un
der the idea, 1. of an expiatory sacrifice, in which the victim was charged with the sins of the whole world : we proceed,
2. To consider it as the body of all the shadows,