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tening, God dealeth with you as with sons- -for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not.' In all their afflictions their Saviour is afflicted with all he sympathises-out of all, in his own good time and way, he has promised to deliver them.
Let us consider how the sorest trials, by the grace of God, are made to work together for our good.
We might say that affliction tends to moderate our attachment to the things of time. Under it the world loses its hold on our hearts-we lift our eyes upwards, and seek in heaven surer and more enduring treasures than earth can give. We might say that it is in the school of affliction that many of the fairest graces of the Christian character are taught and fostered. There best we learn patience, and fortitude, and humility, and sympathy with the woes of each other. We might say that affliction is often a means of awakening into fervour the spirit of prayer, and bringing down in more plentiful effusion the grace of God. There are few, even of the most hardened and reckless men, who, in the hour of severe trials, are not brought down upon their knees. As thy day,' saith the scripture, so shall thy strength be.' The more I am troubled, the more I feel my own weakness-the deeper the conviction of my own weakness, the more earnestly am I constrained to seek the divine assistance --and the more I seek and need, the more I find. Wherefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake, for when I am weak then am I strong. We might say that affliction helps us to see, in their fullest beauty, the promises and consolations of the gospel. O! it is not till the hour of hard things comes that we truly feel the value of faith! When the world has cast us off, and friends are weeping around us, and eternity is opening before us, the most careless of us all will be compelled to confess that there is one thing needful that a poor, distressed, dying sinner needs comfort, and that nothing can smooth the pillow of death like the hope of eternal life through Christ crucified. How happy the man
more than when we take up his cross-when, in calm and cordial submission to trouble, we say with him, 'Lord, not our will, but thine be done?'
O! whether I look to earth or heaven, I find abundant proof of the truth, 'it is good to be afflicted.'
Who are those so meek and so gentle amid the world's buffetings-patient of evil and of provocation on whose wrath, or fretfulness, or discontent the sun never descends? These are they whom affliction has taught to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of their God. Who are those that never quail in the day of danger-fearless and foremost in the battles of the faith-cleaving to their Master most when the world frowns on him? These are they who have been trained to independence in the school of affliction-unto whom it has been given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe in his name, but also to suffer for his sake. Who are those humble contrite ones-of the chastened spirit, weaned utterly from vain glory, and from pride? These are they whom affliction has tutored in self-knowledge-who have looked inwards, and felt and confessed that they suffered far less than they deserved. Who are those whose tear ever starts forth at the tale of woe-they of the kindly and affectionate heart, with feet ever swift to run on the errand of mercy, with hands open as day to melting charity? These are they who have known well grief themselves, and care, and penury-who have wept by a mother's or sister's grave. Yea, who are those spirits in paradise, arrayed in white robes, and whence came they? These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. O not till I join their happy choirs will I fully appropriate the words, "Thou which hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and bring me from the depths of the earth.'
him, crucify him,' John xix. 15.
who under the shinings of heaven's countenance, But they cried out, Away with him, away with however bitter be the cup that is given him to drink, can take up the scripture-Though heart and flesh fail, God is the strength of my heart, and Ir was the foolish fancy of an old moralist, that portion for ever!' Might we not add, also, that it the very sight of a perfect man would charm the is through affliction we learn most nearly to be con-world into virtue. The fate of Jesus Christ on formed to the image of Jesus our Saviour. He the earth has dissipated the delusion for ever. was emphatically a man of sorrows, and acquainted He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from with grief: he endured the contradiction of sinners sinners; he went about continually doing good; against himself. And how can we resemble him his meat and drink it was to do the will of his
Father in heaven; and yet he was despised, and reviled, and scourged, and murdered. These are terrible words, The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus, whom ye delivered up in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of life.' Alas! there is no beauty in holiness to attract the carnal eye. Still, as of old, the judgment of the men of the world is blind and perverse; they hate the truth and persecute it.
Away with him, away with him'-cried the Jews. O how shall the authors of that mad cry stand before the Lord the Judge! My soul enter not thou into their secrets; unto their assembly mine honour be not thou united. And yet let me not forget my own guilt in theirs. By my ingratitude and disobedience, by my rejection of the gospel offers, and my grieving, and vexing, and quenching the Spirit of Christ, have not I joined often in their cry? O Lord God, thou knowest! Lord, have mercy upon me. Deliver me from the fate of those who crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
'Away with him, away with him, crucify him,'-cried the Jews. The wild cry was obeyed. Jesus was led away as a lamb to the slaughter --and on the tree of Calvary he died. Let me think of the bitterness of that death. How agonizing must have been the tearing and piercing of his hands and feet, as the iron spikes were driven through them! Let me think of the lingering torture of that death. For at least six hours he hung suspended, ere his frame was exhausted and the travail of his soul done. Let me think of the shame of that death. It was a punishment to which only the vilest criminals and slaves were subjected; yea, by the law of God it was held accursed! Blessed Jesus, all that humiliation-all the slow wasting agony of the cross thou didst endure without a murmur for me, that I might believe and live. For my sake thou wast made a curse,' that I might inherit the blessing: for me thou wast 'made sin' -for me the wrath of an angry God entered thy soul, that I might be forgiven and saved.
O the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the love of Jesus! It transcends all thought it passeth knowledge. It was love that brought down Immanuel from glory-it was love that sustained his spirit amid the pains of Calvaryengraven on his person, engraven on his life, engraven indelibly on his death are the words,
'Love to sinners of men.' In the gospel scheme there is indeed wisdom infinite-far more gloriously manifested than in all the wondrous harmonies and adaptations of nature; but it was love that prompted that wisdom to devise good things for sinners. In the gospel scheme there is indeed eternal and immutable justice-more strikingly vindicated far than it could have been by the damnation of every single soul which had ever transgressed the law; but it was love that turned away the sword of avenging justice from the sinner, and caused it to fall with all its weight on the Surety. In the gospel scheme there is indeed omnipotent power-ay, and far more majestically exercised than it ever has been in the thunder, and the earthquake, and the hurricane; but without love that power would have been employed to destroy not to save. 0 the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the love of Christ Jesus! If I forget thee, my crucified Lord, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth-let my right hand forget its cunning.
'Crucify him, crucify him,'-cried the Jews. And behold the man!-behold the Lamb of God bleeding, groaning, dying! Ah! to the stubborn, to the hard-hearted, to the unbelieving and impenitent man, there is no more terrible spectacle than that in God's universe! Is it possible to look to it, and to consider ever so lightly what it behoved Jesus to suffer ere he could make atonement to the divine justice for sin, without trembling over the words, 'Our God is a consuming fire.' If these things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? The long, deep silence of ages shall again be broken by another communication from heaven. That same crucified one shall descend again in like manner as he ascended; and all who are not drawn to his cross shall be driven to his judgment-seat. 'Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.' And then when the stars fall down from heaven, and the moon becomes as blood, and the angels of God range their glittering lists along a burning world-when the great white throne is set up, and the books are opened, and the eternal doom is to be read—neither wealth, nor power, nor knowledge-neither name, nor vow, nor keenest prayer will avail-nothing, nothing, save an interest in the death of the Son of Mary. O Lord, even now at the foot of thy cross give me grace to kneel and cry, 'My Lord and my God.'
‘And he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors,' Isa. liii. 12.
On one occasion a curious disciple put the question to Christ, Lord, are there many that be saved?' But Christ, in reply, bade the man look to himself: "Enter ye in at the strait gate, for many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able.' Secret things belong unto God-and he has not chosen to reveal the number of his elect. But we know that when they are all gathered in, they will form a goodly company. They are spoken of in the scriptures as a 'multitude which no man can number.'
Now, as the Redeemer bare the sins of every one on his own body on the tree, for every one also he intercedes in paradise. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.' There is no more precious truth in the word than this. Many a fainting heart has it cheered many a weary and heavy laden penitent has it restored to peace and joy. In the far distant heavens the temple unseen, not made with hands there is one pleading for me, who am but dust and ashes. He bears my name upon his breastplate, he takes my prayers and presents them mingled with much incense on the golden altar before the throne. He had, indeed, no taint of sin-yet was he, while upon earth, compassed about with infirmities, and he can be touched with mine. Though he knew not what it was to fall, he knew well what it was to struggle and to fight.' He can sympathise with me in poverty, and sorrow, and sickness; he can sympathise with me amid all the scorn, and hatred, and persecution of the world; he can sympathise with me in the anguish and perplexity of my innermost spirit; he can sympathise with me under the worst temptations of satan; he can sympathise with me amid the gathering shadows of the dark valley; he can sympathise with me even under the hidings of my God's face. All these things himself felt-and in all he has a fellow-feeling with me. Ay, and whereas the sons of Aaron's race were not suffered to continue by reason of death, this Man hath an unchangeable priesthood-he liveth for ever."
O! who can fail to rejoice over the blessed words: If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous!'
The qualifications of Jesus for this office who will dispute? His intercession is founded on righteousness; it is the intercession of one who has
purchased whatever he seeks, and has a right to it. As a just God, Jehovah cannot refuse a single one of the blessings which he pleads from him for his people-for he died to procure them, and eternal truth is pledged to dispense them as the fruits of his death. Our advocate is the Son of God-his well-beloved Son-his only begotten Son; on his vesture and his thigh the name is written, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Our advocate is the Son of manand just as he was of old is he still, with a heart as tender, and a love as strong; in that he suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. O! no one poor sinner ever confided in him in vain! How came those spirits to heaven? All, all committed their cause to his keeping-and through his advocacy they won their places by the throne.
And for what does the Lord Jesus intercede ?
He pleads that we may be preserved from evil and temptation. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.'
He pleads for the persevering sanctification of his people. 'Holy Father, keep through thine own truth those whom thou hast given me-Lord, sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.'
He pleads for the union of his people in peace and charity. Neither pray I for these alonebut for them which believe in me through their word, that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they all may in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.' O! if there are any who care not for a torn, and mangled, and bleeding church--any who care not for the miserable spectacle which their jealousies and divisions, as Christians, exhibit to the world-surely this voice of the Mediator within the vail might touch them!
Finally, Jesus pleads for the eternal blessedness of all his people in heaven. These are the very words of his intercession, and at this moment they are ascending in sweet memorial before the throne. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.' Let none fret therefore, let none despond at the death of the saints. Their death was but the answer to the prayers of Immanuel; he desired their presence in heaven; and he sent his angels to conduct them to the place which himself had gone before to prepare.
there were sufficient proofs of his heavenly origin. His birth, which had been foretold by the angel
'And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as Gabriel to the virgin mother, was celebrated by they required,' Luke xxiii. 24.
WE must have pronounced the guilt of Pilate very great, though the person brought before him had been undistinguished in any respect from the many thousands of Israel. Pilate had been sent into this province by the Roman emperor, and by a law written by the finger of God even on the heathen heart, he could not but know, that as judge, he was bound to act with the strictest justice. How sinful then was his conduct, when it appears that he was thoroughly convinced that this person whom he condemned was perfectly innocent! Expressly is it recorded by more than one evangelist, that he knew that for envy they had delivered him;' and his own explicit declaration was, 'Behold I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him.' How base and infamous was it then after this, to give him into the hands of those who were thirsting for his blood. His guilt was increased by his having had a preternatural warning. When he was set down on his judgment-seat, his wife sent to him, saying, 'Have thou nothing to do with that just man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream, because of him.' The meek yet noble bearing of the prisoner had already inspired him with awe; and hearing that he had declared himself to be the Son of God, he became more afraid to condemn him. But the Jews knew how to assail him, and they cried, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar's friend; whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar.' Knowing the malice of those who importuned him, and dreading the wrath of an earthly prince more than HIS by whom princes reign, he meanly and wickedly 'gave sentence that it should be as they required.' 'And he released unto them Barabbas, who, for sedition and murder, was cast into prison; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.'
Still greater, however, was the guilt of the Jews. They were Israelites, to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.' The coming of Christ, to be a light to the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel, was the most precious promise of God to their nation. And though, when he came, he grew up,' as had been predicted, as a tender plant, as a root out of a dry ground; yet, in the midst of his humiliation,
At his bap
a multitude of the heavenly host. tism, and on the mount of transfiguration, was the voice from heaven heard, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.' The holiness of his life, and the wisdom, purity, and sublimity of his doctrine confirmed by countless miracles, gave the strongest possible proof that he was indeed the Son of God.
Had he been a noisy demagogue, promising them victory, and riches, and political power, the people in general would have followed him. Had he been of lax morality, and ready to wink at hypocrisy, oppression, and worldly-mindedness, the world would have loved its own, and he would have been welcomed by many. But because he was meek and lowly, and came to establish a spiritual kingdom, and to wean his followers from the present world, and to render them meet for the heavenly inheritance, he was rejected and despised by those whom he sought to enlighten and sanctify. Because he was not only holy himself, but inculcated the necessity of holiness; because he rebuked pride, and hypocrisy, and worldly-mindedness, the scribes and Pharisees hated him, and sought to destroy him. In seeking his destruction they sinned against far clearer light than did Pilate the heathen governor. And because they hated this light, when Pilate, unprincipled though he was, sought to deliver him, being full of envy, they became the more inveterate, and cried, 'Away with him, away with him, crucify him, crucify him.' And they did crucify him with two malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.
Great was the guilt of Pilate, and of the unbelieving Jews, but what must we think of ourselves if we neglect this Saviour? How aggravated must be our guilt, who have had much clearer light, and who have not had the same prejudices to contend with! How great have been our advantages! What could the Lord have done for us that he hath not done? And what returns have we made? Are we living in his service, or are we in a state of rebellion against our sovereign Lord and bountiful Benefactor? Were we to say to the unrenewed man, 'Do you hate Christ?' unless he were a thorough infidel, he would regard the question as an insult; and yet his mind is enmity against God. Do you restrain prayer? Do you forsake, or nearly forsake, his ordinances? Do you hate those who are remarkable for their piety? Are you disposed to sneer at them, and to listen with pleasure
to anything which you think renders their sin- | the earth and the heavens fled away, and there cerity questionable? If you hate his ordinances, you have much reason to fear that you hate the God of ordinances. If you hate the members of Christ's mystical body, you cannot but hate Christ the living Head.
But, O my soul, is it enough that thou shouldst be able to say, I do not hate Christ? Art thou satisfied with the mere absence of hostility? Do not deceive thyself; for if this be the case, thou dost hate him. At the best thou canst but rank among the lukewarm, whom he will spue out of his mouth.' Has he not said, 'He who is not for me is against me, and he who gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.' O Holy Spirit, breathe on my cold heart, and inspire devout affections, if not already communicated; and fan the spark of heavenly love if already kindled; that it may mount up into a brightening flame. Stir up all that is within me to praise and magnify thy holy name; and, in the spirit of heavenborn love, may I be able to say, 'My Beloved is mine, and I am his;' he is the chief among ten thousands, and altogether lovely.'
was no place for them.' He is to come with all the glory of the Father and the holy angels; and he will judge righteous judgment, for he cannot be awed, he cannot be bribed, he cannot be deceived; and his decision is final, there is no appeal.
And who are to be judged? All; 'we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.' At the sound of the last trumpet the dead shall arise; they who are alive shall be changed, and all shall come to the judgment. Behold this vast assembly! Who are they arrayed in white robes, and whence came they? These are they who have come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God; therefore do they shine as the stars in the firmament; therefore they who had once lain among the pots, are now as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold; while in their song of praise they with rapture say, 'Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.'
But are glory, and honour, and immortality to be bestowed on all? Where at that great day shall the sinner and the ungodly appear? Not with that happy throng on the right hand of the
We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of throne, who, with beaming countenances and enChrist,' Rom. xiv. 10.
JESUS died, and rose, and ascended; and he whom the heavens have received is to come again in glory; he who was unjustly judged is to be the sovereign Judge of all who have ever lived; for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.
raptured hearts, are crying out, Alleluia, alleluia;' but with that trembling crowd on the left hand of the throne, about to hear that dreadful and irreversible sentence, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.' In vain do they cry to the mountains and the rocks to hide them; the elements melt with fervent heat, and the mountains and rocks have perished in the flame. The great day of his wrath is come, and who of them is able to stand!
How wonderful that the certainty of such events as death and judgment should not more deeply affect the hearts and lives of the children of men! All men think all men mortal but themselves.' How apt are we to forget that we, as well as others, shall appear before his judg
There is something solemn in standing even before an earthly tribunal. If we were taken from our solitary cell, and had every eye in the crowded judgment-hall fixed on us;-when life or death, honour or infamy, would be the result of the trial, as it drew towards a close would not our feelings be wound up to the highest pitch? How much more awful, however, to stand before a heavenly tribunal; to be judged by him whose servants are glorious seraphs, whose ministers are a flame of fire, whose chariots are twenty thou-ment-seat; that every eye shall see him, and sand, even thousands of angels, whose voice can shake the heavens, and who will by no means clear the guilty!'
they also that pierced him, and shall wail for their aggravated sins!
Should we forget that there is an event fast But who is this Judge? It is Christ the Son coming which brings us individually to judg of God. How august the Judge! How sublime ment? That event cannot be far distant, for here what is writtten by him who, in prophetic vision, we cannot abide long. Every thing around us beheld the judgment! And I saw a great white is subject to decay. The flowers bloom and throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face wither; the verdant foliage of the forest soon