« AnteriorContinuar »
as a testimony to the fact of man's apostacy, and in confirmation of the truth that 'without shedding of blood is no remission of sin.'
suffering that was reserved for him, when he universality of the practice may be appealed to cried, I delight to do thy will, O my God.' He said this not from insensibility to pain. There was nothing of stoical apathy in his constitution. His dread of suffering he did not conceal, but expressed on various occasions; and the expression which he gave of it forms an interesting feature in the example which he left. It shows the sincerity and genuineness of his character, and forms a striking contrast to the philosophers of Greece and Rome, who boasted of their indifference to pain, and their contempt of death. He prayed three times, 'If it be possible, let this cup pass from me;' and yet could say, 'Not my will, but thine be done.' Resignation is too feeble a term to describe the state of mind with which he suffered. He not only endured the cross,' but despised the shame.' He rose superior to it; he delighted in it, I delight to do thy will, O my God.'
These awful words are legibly inscribed on every part of the Jewish dispensation. Under the law almost all things are purged by blood.' To no purpose would the high priest have approached the mercy-seat had he not taken the blood of atonement with him. Prayer and intercession could be of no avail unless accompanied and enforced by the offering of sacrifice. But 'it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. For the law having a shadow of good things to come, could never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect. But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he entered once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.'
This was not the language of momentary feeling, but of conviction and principle. Our Lord acted in conformity with this declaration from The death of Christ was truly an 'offering for the commencement of his life to its close. His sin.' All that the sacrifices under the law did cup of wrath was felt to be palatable and even ceremonially and typically was done by the sacripleasing when he reflected that it was a cup fice of Christ actually and effectually. To adwhich the Father had given' him. It was suf-duce the whole of the passages in which this great ficient to render his work of suffering not only tolerable but delightful to know that he had been appointed to it by the will of his Father in heaven. We have in him, not only an object of faith which we should devoutly contemplate, but an example of holiness which we should carefully imitate. His disciples are they who, like him, delight to do the will of God. Their obedience falls infinitely short of his, yet it possesses a measure of conformity to his in the spirit and principle of it. He could say, 'I do always those things that please the Father;' and he claims kindred with those only who walk by the same rule, 'Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, my sister, and mother.'
truth is either obviously implied, or expressly and strongly asserted, would be to quote a large portion of the New Testament scriptures. One passage may suffice: 'For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.'
Christ's 'offering for sin' is a sacrifice of God's own providing. When no eye pitied, and no other hand could save us, He, against whom we had sinned, in the tenderness of his compassion, and in the plenitude of his mercy, said, 'Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom; I have laid help on One that is mighty.' He is the 'Lamb of God,' and 'the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all.' His work of suffering was a work which the Father had given him to do, and his cup of sorrow was a cup the Father
‹ When thou shalt make his soul an offering for had given him to drink. 'It pleased the Lord to sin,' Isa. liii. 10.
bruise him, and he hath put him to grief.' As he OFFERINGS for sin have been presented in all hung on the cross he verified the pathetic language ages, and among all nations. This practice can of the prophet, 'Is it nothing to you all ye that only be accounted for by tracing it to the posi-pass by? behold, and see, if there be any sorrow tive appointment of God. There is nothing in like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, the light of nature that seems to dictate such a wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day mode of propitiating the divine favour. Yet the ] of his fierce anger.' !
But the offering of Christ for sin was not more distinguished in its origin, than by its excellence. He offered up himself, his human nature; an offering absolutely without spot or blemish. He offered himself, not in part, but wholly. The offerings under the law were merely bodily sacrifices; and the offering of Christ was, in like manner, an embodied sacrifice; hence we read that he bare our sins in his own body on the tree;' and of our being 'sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all.'
But his body was not the whole, nor the principal part of the sacrifice which he offered. It is not the body but the soul that makes the man. His body connects him with the inferior animals which have bodies without souls; but his soul unites him to the angels of heaven, who have souls without bodies. In the offering of himself, Christ 'poured out his soul unto death.' He underwent the most intense bodily suffering; yet this bore no proportion to the travail of his soul,' which was quite distinct from the pain of his body, and did not result from it. Before the hand of violence had touched his body he felt all the anguish of this mysterious travail. In the garden it convulsed him with agony, and expressed itself in drops of bloody sweat, and drew from him the exclamation, 'My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.'
Christ presented his offering in the view of the people; yet the people could see a small portion only of his sufferings. They saw his countenance 'marred more than any man's, and his visage more than the sons of men.' They saw his back torn with the scourge, his head bruised with thorns, his body bending under the weight of his cross, his hands and his feet fastened by nails to the accursed tree. But they could see nothing of the anguish of his spirit under the hidings of his Father's countenance, when the sword of justice was plunged into his innocent side, and the storm of infinite wrath poured out its fury on his head, and the load of his people's guilt pressed him down to the lowest abyss of wretchedness, when he trode the winepress alone, and magnified the law, and made reconciliation for iniquity, and triumphed over principalities and powers, and brought in an everlasting righteousness, and perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
In the offering of the Redeemer's soul for sin let us contemplate, with adoring wonder and gratitude, the transcendant love of God the Father in appointing so expensive a sacrifice, and of God the Son in consenting to become the victim; and let the love of Christ constrain us thus
to judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.'
For such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens,' Heb. vii. 26. AARON was an high priest, but not such an high priest as became us. As a man, he was guilty in common with all other men, and, therefore, needed daily to offer up sacrifices, first for his own sins, and then for the people's. The sacrifices which he presented, moreover, had no power to take away sin, and could not 'make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience.' The priesthood of Aaron, indeed, was divinely appointed, and it completely answered all the purposes of its institution. But it wanted both influence and permanence; it was entirely typical in its nature and use; and derived all its importance from that better dispensation which it prefigured, and by which it was superseded.
But we have an high Priest over the house of God.' This name has been given to Christ, not in the way of mere accommodation to the Levitical priesthood, but to express his mediatorial office, and redeeming work. He was like Aaron 'called of God an high priest;' and anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. The Jewish high priest offered sacrifice; Christ in like manner gave himself for us 'an offering and a sacrifice to God of sweet-smelling savour.' The high priest under the law went into the most holy place once every year, and presented himself before the mercy seat, having the blood of atonement in his hand; so Jesus our High Priest, ‘by his own blood entered in once into the holy place, and sat down on the right hand of God, where he ever liveth to make intercession for us.' But Christ was not called to the priesthood after the order of Aaron. He belonged to a different family, and another tribe. Aaron represented Christ partly, but not perfectly. The law made nothing perfect: there was therefore 'a necessity for another priest, who should rise after the order of Melchizedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron.' Christ rose to the priesthood after the similitude of Melchizedec, of whom it is said that he was 'without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life.' He had parents like other men;
right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.'
What a lovely character is here exhibited for our imitation! He left us an example that we should follow his steps. His people were predestinated to be conformed to his image. 'He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.' 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' Let all who believe in him be careful to maintain good works.
he had both a beginning of days and an end of life. But his descent is not recorded; neither is the date of his birth, nor of his death. These particulars were concealed, in order that he might be 'made like unto the Son of God,' who, as man, was without a human father, and as God, without a mother; who was in the beginning with God, and liveth for evermore; who is 'made higher than the heavens,' having a name given to him which is 'above every name.' Such an High Priest became us. He supplied all the defects of the Levitical priesthood, and realized all its pre-him on earth. As he pleads with God for us, figurations. He has power with God, and prevails. Him the Father heareth always. He is just such a priest as we needed, and as a priest, he is all that we need. For in one mysterious person he combines supreme divinity with
As he represents us in heaven, let us represent
let us plead with men for him. Speak well of his ways, commend his truth, promote his cause, reprove the ungodly, edify the church, 'be stedfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.'
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,' Isa. liii.
Sinless humanity. He took upon him the reality of our flesh, but he assumed only the likeness of our sinful flesh. It behoved him to be in all things made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.' He who knew no sin consented to be reckoned sinful, and submitted to be treated as sinful, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.' But he is 'holy,' not merely in virtue of his consecration to the priesthood, but personally and inherently, in the possession of every moral excellence of which human nature is susceptible. He is, therefore, perfectly harmless,' as well as infinitely 'holy,' free from actual transgression, chargeable with no neglect or violation of duty. And as he committed no actual sin, so he contracted no moral pollution; for he was 'undefiled.' Wickedness prevailed humiliation and sorrow, as he rose above them in around him, but it affixed no stain on him. He may with truth be said to have been 'separate from sinners. He dwelt among them, and associated with them. He felt for them, and expressed his sympathy towards them by going about doing good both to their bodies and souls. Yet he was entirely separate from them in spirit and affection, in practice and character. In a moral point of view, he had nothing in common with sinners, and was in every respect opposed to them.
THE Saviour as a man is distinguishable from all other men by the character he exhibited, and the sufferings he endured. He is fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into his lips. No man ever spake, and none ever acted like him. History records no example equal to his in purity, in zeal, in excellence, and usefulness. As his character was peculiar, so was his experience. He descended as far below other men in
In the priesthood of Christ what a sure foundation is laid of confidence towards God! His work is perfect. We behold its effect in sin taken away, justice satisfied, peace procured, grace provided, death disarmed, and glory promised. Believing in him, we may ask with the apostle, Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the
piety and moral perfection. The treatment he experienced was connected with circumstances which, in the highest degree, aggravated its criminality. He was treated with
Contempt, for he was despised of men.' They despised him for the obscurity of his birth, and asked, 'Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?' They despised him for the meanness of his occupation and kindred, saying, 'Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon: and are not his sisters here with us?' They despised him for the company with whom he associated, 'When the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth with publicans and sinners?' They despised his person and pretensions; his doctrine and miracles: they regarded him as a man utterly unwor
thy of respect or attention; they held him up to scorn and infamy as 'a wine-bibber and a glutton, the friend of publicans and sinners.' They even preferred a murderer to him. And after he had been given over to them to be crucified, as if the death of the cross were not a sufficient degradation, they loaded him with insult and indignity; they buffeted and spat on him; they clothed him in a purple robe; put on him a crown of thorns, and with impious mockery bowed the knee before him, and cried, Hail, King of the Jews.' To contempt there was
Rejection, for he was also 'rejected of men.' 'He came to his own, and they received him not.' They hated his instructions, and said, 'Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.' They resisted his authority, and declared, 'We will not have this man to reign over us.' He invited them to believe, that they might be saved; but they continued in unbelief: he commanded them to repent, that their sins might be blotted out; but they persisted in their impenitence. He was rejected by the elders; the lawyers rejected him; the whole Jewish nation, with a few exceptions, rejected him. They rejected the truths which he taught, the blessings which he offered, the ministry which he exercised, the sacrifice which he offered, the salvation which he wrought out 'My people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.' In addition to contempt and rejection he was subjected to the endurance of unparalleled
Distress. His experience of pain and grief procured for him the distinguishing appellation of 'the man of sorrows;' a name alike honouring to him, and instructive and consolatory to us. What is the history of his life, but a tale of distress, having written on it within and without, lamentation, and mourning, and woe?' Grief was in him not an occasional feeling, but a habitual state of mind; and there were in it an intensity and an acuteness of suffering, of which he alone was susceptible. His acquaintance with grief began at his birth, and it became every day more intimate and agonizing until, under the weight of accumulated and overwhelming sorrow, he 'bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.' Such is the treatment which the Saviour met with; and in his character and conduct there was everything to aggravate its criminality. Let it be viewed in connection with
The innocence of his life. He could appeal to his bitterest enemies, and ask, 'Which of you convinceth me of sin?' Never did he either pro
voke or resent an injury, for he was both harmless and holy. He exhibited a combination of all those qualities which are most calculated to disarm hostility, to command esteem, and engage affection. How strange, and contradictory, and seemingly unaccountable that the holiest of men should be the greatest sufferer! But the treatment he met with will appear still more inexplicable, when viewed in connection with
The usefulness of his labours. He went about doing good, giving food to the hungry, health to the diseased, sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, comfort to the sorrowful, and life to the dead. He spent his life in ministering to the relief of human misery, and in adding to the amount of human happiness. What numbers of the Jews were debtors to his compassion and power! By his teaching, example, and miracles, he made himself a benefactor to the whole Jewish nation. Yet they despised and rejected him. Peter explained the mystery, when he said to them, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.' They were merely God's instruments, and did what his hand and his counsel determined before to be done. But they acted wilfully, and wickedly, and therefore righteously perished.
Let none imagine that in similar circumstances they would have acted a different part. The spirit which influenced them is common to all. Hence it is that the stone which the builders rejected is still disallowed: and of those who confess him in words, how many deny him by their works! But to them which believe, he is precious. Whilst others see no beauty in him that he should be desired, they exclaim, 'how great is his beauty!' Yet how small a portion do they know of him. But what they know not now, they shall know hereafter. They shall see the King in his beauty, and appear with him 'when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.'
'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,' Isa. liii. 4.
In the time of Isaiah, the sufferings of Christ were future; yet he spake of them as if they had
been already past. He foresaw them by the spirit of prophecy; but he described them in the language of history, to intimate their absolute certainty, and their perfect efficacy. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' This from eternity he had undertaken to do, and the engagement became available in behalf of man from the period of his fall. The death of Christ possessed the same importance, and exercised the same influence under the Old Testament dispensation, which belong to it under the New, as the only way of access to God, and the sure ground of acceptance with him. The prophet tells
What the Saviour suffered—'griefs' and 'sorrows,' representing an extremity of pain and anguish both in soul and body which no finite mind can conceive, and which no human language can express. Never was there any sorrow like his sorrow. The prophet describes the manner of the Saviour's endurance, and tells us how he suffered; with what meekness, and patience, and cheerful resignation he bore our griefs, and carried our sorrows. Above all, he points out the principle of the Saviour's sufferings, and declares them to have been purely―
Voluntary. It was not possible, indeed, that the cup which the Father had given him should pass away from him. But the obligation to suffer resulted from choice, not from necessity. He could say, 'Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.' We had no claim on his sympathy. He beheld in us nothing to attract his favour, but every thing to provoke his displeasure, and excite his abhorrence. Yet he loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy, and without blemish.' His sufferings were strictly
Vicarious. He endured them not merely for our benefit, but as our substitute, and he endured them in our nature, which he took upon him with all its sinless infirmities attached to it. Thus he literally put himself in our place, and bore not his, but our griefs, and carried our sorrows. So that what he endured actually for his people, they endured virtually in him. Hence they are said to be crucified with him, to be buried with him, and to be risen with him. What he is mediatorially, they are in virtue of their union
to him; all that he did and suffered in their behalf, they did and suffered in his person. And as their griefs and sorrows were transferred to him, so the merit of his submission and suffering is imputed to them. They become righteous in his obedience, and are accepted in him the Beloved. The Lord, looking upon them in the face of his Anointed, sees no iniquity in them, approves of them, delights in them, and blesses them with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. His sufferings were completely—
Effectual. All that he undertook to do, he has accomplished. In him we have the antitype of the scape-goat, which carried away the sins of the people, after having been confessed by the high priest, into the wilderness. He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.' The offering of the scape-goat needed to be renewed every year; but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sin, for ever sat down on the right hand of God, having by this one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified, and become the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.' The members of the church on earth unite in expressing their dependence on him, and acknowledging their obligations to him saying, 'in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;' and the ascriptions of the redeemed in heaven assert the same truth, and breathe a similar spirit, and commemorate the same deliverance, Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever. Amen.'
The sufferings of Christ, it is true, have not procured for his people the privilege of exemption from the griefs and the sorrows of temporal affliction; far less can they serve as a substitute for the griefs and the sorrows of genuine repentance. But they open up a fountain of rich consolation and never-failing support under trials of every description; and in particular, to mourners in Zion they give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.' Let us, by faith and prayer, look to him for strength both to act and endure as seeing him who is invisible; let us go to him without the camp, bearing his reproach; not only willing to serve, but prepared to suffer in his service and for his sake; rejoicing in the belief that they who suffer for him shall also reign with him, and that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.