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should then bring what we hear, to the touchstone of divine truth, and, by comparing it with the sacred oracles, endeavour to ascertain how far it is worthy of our be lief. Such conduct would be reasonable, even if the gospel affected our happiness only in this present life: but when we consider that our everlasting salvation also depends on our acceptance of it, surely we must be inexcusable indeed if we will not bestow this attention on a concern of such infinite importance. On the other hand, if like the Bereans, we search the scriptures daily to see whether things be as they are represented to us, we doubt not respecting the issue of such an enquiry; we shall soon believe the gospel, and enjoy its richest blessings. Let us not then suffer our judgment to be warped by prejudice, or our enquiries to be stopped by popular clamour. If any people be objects of general odium on account of their religious sentiments and conduct, let us not hastily conclude that they are wrong; lest peradventure we "be found fighting against God," and "reject the counsel of God against ourselves." The opposition made to them may perhaps be rather considered as a presumption in their favour; because the true religion, and its most strenuous advocates, have in every age been maligned and opposed. The just medium is, neither to reject nor receive any thing without a diligent and impartial examination; but "to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good."

This subject may further teach us to expect injuries from the hands of an ungodly world.

The scripture has plainly told us that we must suffer with Christ in order that we may reign with him. Nor did our Lord conceal this truth from his followers: on the contrary, he was peculiarly solicitous that they should bear it in mind: "Remember, says he, the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord: if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." It is certain therefore that we must be conformed to our Saviour's image, and, like him, be made perfect through sufferings. If we think to resemble him in holiness, and

I Thess. v. 21.

g John xv. 20.

yet to escape the cross, we shall find ourselves disappointed in the issue. We must either violate our conscience by sinful compliances, or bear reproach on account of our singularity. We may indeed, by a long course of exemplary conduct, put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: but our fortitude will be tried; nor can we hope that God will make our enemies to be at peace with us, till our ways have long been pleasing in his sight, and our fidelity have been proved by many painful and victorious conflicts. It is worthy of observation that St. Peter makes this very improvement of our Lord's sufferings: "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind." He goes further still; and bids us "not think it strange if we should be tried with fiery trials, as though some strange thing happened unto us; but rather to rejoice, inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when his glory shall be revealed we may be glad also with exceeding joy." Let us then take up our cross daily, and follow Christ. Let no fear of man deter us from a conscientious discharge of our duty. Let us "remember him that endureth such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we be weary and faint in our minds." And if we have reason to expect, that, like him, we shall even be "cut off out of the land of the living" for our adherence to the truth, let us cheerfully "suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together."


There is yet one more improvement which, above all, it behoves us to make of this subject. It powerfully speaks to all of us, Let that be a source of grief to you, which was an occasion of such misery to Christ. Can we recollect that every transgression of ours inflicted a wound on the sacred body of our Lord, yea, and caused the deepest agony in his soul, and yet review our past lives with indifference? Shall not rather the experience of every day fill us with shame and contrition? And shall not sin appear so hateful in our eyes, that we shall henceforth turn away from it with indignation and abhorrence? We are informed that David, when three of his worthies had

h1 Pet. ii. 15.

i 1 Pet. iv. 1, 12, 13.



cut their way through the Philistine hosts, and, at the most imminent peril of their lives, had brought him water from the well of Bethlehem, forebore to drink of it, and poured it out before the Lord with this reflection; "Is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?" However much he had thirsted for it, he was deterred by this consideration from even tasting it. And shall not we, when tempted to gratify any unhallowed appetite, call to mind what it cost our Lord to redeem us from it? However strong may be our thirst for sin, shall not the remembrance of our having so often drank it with greediness abase us in the dust? and shall we not in future put away the cup from our lips, saying, “This is the blood, not of a mere man who jeoparded his life, but of God's only Son, who died for me? Was he crucified for me once, and shall I now crucify him afresh? Did he shed his precious blood for me, and shall I tread him under foot, and count his blood an unholy thing? How shall I do such wickedness, and sin thus against my God and Saviour? This were indeed a good improvement of the subject before us: this were to answer the great end of all Christ's sufferings; since "he gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify us unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works." This too beyond all things would evince us to be the very "people of God, for whose transgressions he was stricken." Let this effect then be visible amongst us. So, when we ourselves shall stand at the tribunal of our Lord, our lives shall testify on our behalf; and the Judge of quick and dead shall say, "I know that ye feared me, seeing that ye put away from you the accursed thing, which my soul hated."

k 2 Sam. xxiii. 15—17.


Isai. liii. 9, 10. He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was there any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.

THE accomplishment of the prophecies is one of the strongest arguments for the truth of Christianity. The predictions which relate to the great Founder of our religion are so numerous and so minute, that they could not possibly have been dictated by any but him, to whom all things are naked and open, and who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. The very smallest circumstances of our Lord's death, even such as were most unlikely and insignificant, were pointed out with as much accuracy as those which were most important. What could be more unlikely, than that he should be crucified, when crucifixion was not a Jewish but a Roman punishment? and yet that was foretold by David hundreds of years before Rome was built. What could be more unlikely than that, if he were crucified, he should not have his legs broken, when that was the customary way of hastening the end of those who were crucified, and they who were crucified with him were actually so treated? it was foretold fifteen hundred years before, that "a bone of him should not be broken." What more insignificant, than that the soldiers should part his garment, but cast lots for his vesture? yet that, with many other things equally minute, was circumstantially foretold. So, in the text, his honourable interment after his disgraceful death, is predicted:" his grave," as the words may be translated, "was appointed with the wicked; but with the rich was his tomb." Now, if we consider the treatment which Jesus was to meet with, it was necessary that such events as could not be foreseen by human wisdom, or accomplished by man's device, should be foretold; because such a concurrence of circumstances, all happening exactly according to the predictions concerning him, would fully vindicate his character, and manifest, that all which he


suffered was according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. Notwithstanding he was innocent and spotless in himself, yet he was to be treated as the vilest of malefactors: nor was he to be persecuted and put to death by men only, but to be an object also of the divine displeasure. Therefore it was foretold by the prophet in the text, that, although he had done no violence, neither was there any deceit in his mouth, yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and to put him to grief.


From these words we shall take occasion to consider, first, The innocence of Jesus; secondly, The conduct of the Father towards him; and thirdly, The reasons of that conduct.

I. Let us consider the innocence of Jesus.

The declaration of our Lord's innocence is here peculiarly strong: it is not merely asserted, That he did no violence, but it is taken for granted as a thing which could not admit of one moment's doubt; "although he had done no violence." And indeed, well might it be taken for granted; for, if he were not innocent himself, he could not be a propitiation for our sins: if he had in the least deviated from the perfect law of God, he himself had needed an atonement for his own sins, as much as we for ours. Under the ceremonial law, the lamb that was to be offered in sacrifice at the Passover * was solemnly set apart four days before, in order that it might be examined; and, if it had the least spot or blemish, it was not worthy to be offered. To this St. Peter refers, when he calls our Lord, "a Lamb without blemish, and without spot:" and it should seem that our Lord's entrance into Jerusalem just four days before the Passover, and the strict examination of him before Pilate and the chief priests, were intended to fulfil that type.In reference to the same, St. John says, "He was manifested to take away our sin; and in him was no sin;"

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a The word "because" should be translated," although," See Bishop Lowth's version, which removes all the obscurities from this passage. If this subject were treated separately, and not in a series of Sermons on the chapter, the first and last clauses of the text should be omitted.

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